Twitter is an intriguing beast. It is one of the two dominant social networks found on today’s internet, and at its simplest, offers one the ability to broadcast one’s thoughts to other people. Admittedly anywhere on the internet is now wont to do this, however, twitter’s defining trait lies in its limit of 140 characters per post. One could perhaps argue it a social network centred about brevity.

Having such a limitation, presumably it can be dismissed? Not worthy of one’s attention?

Whilst the majority of Twitter could be considered pointless babble, as a platform, it has nevertheless proved an influential medium. Having numerous links to the Arab Spring, for example.

Again, one could argue the internet as a whole, capable of similar, and I would agree. However, twitter’s ‘follower’ format has a certain openness about it that one finds difficult to ignore. Coupled with the seemingly instantaneous means of posting ideas, opinions, and yes, inane babble, in a fluid and concise manner gives the service a degree of attractiveness and influence.

For what reason then, am I blithering on about Twitter?

Ah yes, my point. My reason for writing this is relatively simple, and is centred on a simple question:

How has Twitter changed the ani-sphere and its denizens?

The ani-sphere, which I choose to define as the loose area of the internet primarily concerned with Japanese animation; consisting of a number of blogs, forums, translators, news sites, and irc channels; follows a relatively standard approach across its many genres. When a new episode is released, through murky channels or otherwise, people watch it; then some rush to comment on it; whilst others comment on those comments, and so on. These comments themselves, take a variety of shapes, from philosophical rambles to curious combinations of concatenated consonants.

Now, has Twitter changed this?

No, not particularly; it’s a formula that works, after all.

What exactly has Twitter done, then?

I posit that Twitter has increased interaction within the ani-sphere.

The ani-sphere, as I have come to understand it, is not a single community, but rather a loose coalition of warring genres. Whilst each follow approximately the same methodology, and speak the same language; they are interested in slightly different programs, topics, and ideas. Today, blogs, perhaps more so than forums, allow one to offer a stream of thoughts on one’s chosen subject. If successful, one can achieve a reasonably sized audience to which one may preach; some of whom, may comment on, or discuss matters further.

But there exists a plethora of blogs, and so competition for readership and influence is inevitable. Blogs and their authors which find themselves similarly aligned, or within the same clique, might follow their comrades and competitors both. Following this, and being the proactive, extroverted kind of chaps that bloggers tend to be, I think it not implausible to suggest it likely that they will end up commenting on each other’s blogs. Indeed, this does appear to happen.

Again, where does Twitter come in?

Twitter, I should like to suggest, is a similar, but less formal, affair. It too, is a stream of consciousness, and as such one is able to tweet whatever one so wishes. It is eminently possible, therefore, for one to offer short and quickly realised commentary on a series or topic. This might be of a serious vein; alternatively, it may tend towards irreverence. Yet with this reduction of formality, one finds a greater sense of interaction between users possible; from a quick bout of banter between friends, to conversations mimicking those found in comments and forums of old. Coupled with that of the open ‘follower’ style, where one may select whom they wish to follow at the click of a button, and indeed unfollow with the same ease; the high walls separating the various communities within the ani-sphere suddenly begin to find their foundations much looser than before.

Through connections on Twitter, one need not necessarily read others’ extended treatise found on their respective blogs; nor is it impossible that one might find new blogs of interest amongst the ‘Twitter-sphere’. With an increased degree of informal communications between bloggers, commenters, and the occasional ‘lurker’ thrown in for good measure, we begin to see an increased level of communication and collaboration.

Not only this, but over the past few months, perhaps one has noticed an increase in the number of guest posts? An increase in duets, or as is apparently le mot du jour; colloquia?

Thus far, we have found that Twitter has assisted in furthering collaborative commentary; a pooling of ideas; and a certain degree of advertisement for one’s own internet abode. Yet, what of the central activity that ties the ani-sphere together? That of actually watching anime: has Twitter influenced this in anyway?

Here I introduce The Standing Committee for the Coordination of Simultaneous Anime Viewing; a collection of, primarily, bloggers from Twitter who come together to watch anime. Born of a suggestion from Twitter, and making use of Skype, the SCCSAV, as it is more laconically known, has grown to include a sizeable number of people; each with their own tastes, philosophies, and styles; inviting commentary and discussion on the programs they chose to watch with it. In effect, this has helped to provide a bridge, upon which even the more discrete communities may meet.

Can we consider Twitter to be an influential force within the ani-sphere?

With the above points alone, I would argue one can.

There are, however, other questions whose answers may contribute. The first, and perhaps most apparent, being: why Twitter? One might ask as to the affect Twitter has had on the influence of individuals within the ani-sphere. Further still, one may ask whether this is limited solely to the ani-sphere, or whether it common within other areas of interest: music, film, or sport, for example.

Twitter appears to have made the ani-sphere a more collaborative and social place, yet it is apparent we have only just scratched the surface of why this is: there is much yet to explore.

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