The world seems to be dividing into those who live on Twitter and those who twitch at the very mention of social media. Now two books are attempting to codify each side.
Dom Sagolla, one of the masterminds behind Twitter, has produced 140 Characters: A Style Guide for the Short Form, while Janelle Randazza, a journalist and recovering tweeter, is countering with Go Tweet Yourself: 365 Reasons Why Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, and Other Social Networking Sites Suck. Each book is about 200 pages--which is a little like having encyclopedias devoted to haiku.
But both have much to impart to anyone starting or building a business today. Randazza generally pooh-poohs the concept of connecting online; she knows it can easily devolve into a pointless time suck. Sagolla can't tout the possibilities enough; what better cost-free way is there to track what consumers say about your product, to resolve disputes and to promote yourself?
140 is a nuts-and-bolts guide, complete with warnings about speaking too freely and advice on targeting an audience. Go Tweet mostly worries that "Twitter has inspired people to talk about the stupid."
Ultimately, both books are the equivalent of sex manuals when "just do it" is the best learning experience. Look at it that way, and the more incisive guide is, ironically enough, Go Tweet Yourself. Take the rants as advice, and you have a pretty good rulebook on making the most of Twitter--in fewer words than 140 Characters needs.
Regina Schrambling is a writer in New York City.