And Experiment by Dan O'Brien.

The Experiment




Just the Facts

  1. The Goal of the Twitbook experiment was simple: Write a short story, via Twitter, with however many authors were interested. 
  2. About 87 signed up after the vague call-to-action of "Who wants to be part of a fairly ambitious Twitter experiment?"
  3. Once the sign-up period was over, this page was created with the introduction to the game:

Okay, thanks for your patience and thanks to all 87 of you who signed up. Now, I don't know if this has been done before, but I want to create one short story. I want it to be written one Tweet at a time, and I want it to be written by all 87 of us. Everyone writes a part of the story, every one gets one Tweet to do it.  Below, you'll find a list. That list is the order of the authors. The way it works is I'll start with the opening of the book. When I run out of characters, (it could be after a sentence, it could be mid-sentence, it could be mid-WORD), it is up to the person after me to continue the story, taking it in whatever direction they see fit. When that person runs out of characters, it is up to the NEXT person to go. And so on and so on, so we'll have 87 people all contributing part of this story, one after the other. The order of authors, for the most part, was chosen based on when you signed up. (I say "for the most part" because I decided to close the book with Ben Smith and Jeff Kelly, a Cracked employee and writer, respectively. There's something about having a one-two-punch of lunatic Cracked affiliates that I feel like will make for a strong ending.)

When it's your turn, try to respond as quickly as possible, so the story doesn't die. Make sure you tag your entry with #Twitbook, so all of us can follow it. The story will be written exclusively on Twitter, but when it's finished, I'll arrange it in paragraph form and post it right here on this page.

If you have any questions, ask in the comment section of this page. I'll get us started at 12:30. I am so freaking excited about this it's not even funny.


We got off to a pretty miserable start. I hadn't considered different time zones OR the possibility that people would a) forget or b) lose interest. As a result, we had no system in place for when someone fell asleep at the wheel when it was their turn to continue the story. While we did manage to get a few chapters up, it's pretty safe to say that Day 1 was a failure. On Day 2, we got organized. I made an announcement via Twitter to re-check this page and laid out the following new rules:

Update- Day 2:

So this isn't going exactly as we'd planned, but I still think it can work. In fact, I'm so confident, that I will not settle for failure. We will finish this, and we will finish it by 3:35PST, by God. Things are going to go a little bit differently this time around. If you look down below, you'll notice that there are now times next to everyone's name. That is when you are responsible for posting. If the person before you misses their time, then you just keep right on going. That person will be skipped. (I'm sorry and, in the future, this will all hopefully be streamlind.) If you miss your time for any reason and would still like to be included, please send me a direct message on Twitter and I'll bump you farther down the line. I know five minutes isn't a lot of time, but I also know that I don't really care. It's supposed to be quick, and off-the-cuff and fun. We want to keep this as rapid-fire as possible and, I think we can all agree, the way things went yesterday was less than spectacular.

Important Tags to Remember: Whenever you post your portion of the book, please tag it with #Twitbook. If you want to discuss the on-going story or reach out to other co-authors, we're all chatting about the process on Twitter. Tag story discussions with #Twitspambook, (don't use #Twitbookchat anymore) and you can join us, (thanks to @Vasir for orchestrating that). Anyone who is unfamiliar with why we do tagging or how it works- I go to search.twitter.com and I type in #Twitbook, which allows me to see every Tweet that gets tagged with that post. That's how we've all been following the action.

The Story: To help get the ball rolling again, I'm posting what we have of the story as of 9:10am PST. It has certainly strayed from its origin, but it's still very much a clear story, (and only required a light editorial touch by me). [Note: I'm not going to update the story here as it happens because there is NO WAY I'll be able to keep up. I'm just posting this first batch here, and I'll post the rest once we're finished. I've got some exciting ideas planned for this story.] So, here's what we have so far:


[At this point, I put the first 10 or 15 Tweets up for everyone to see. I've since taken it down, now that we'll have the full story up.]


Okay, so I don't think this is terrible. We've got our hero, a hot red head, and a fat slimey guy, all of whom are on their way to the fat slimey guy's house to give his wife a pap smear, because our hero, it turns out, is some kind of Action Geinocologist, (which, to be honest, is the coolest fucking job I've ever heard). The hot red head has a murdered husband,  but that's sort of on the backburner right now while we're en route to the emergency pap smear. Murder mystery? Emergency pap smear? Vaginas? I love the hell out of this story. We still have so much to do with it- Will they make it in time? Will they make it at all? Why was this man murdered? Where'd the fat guy come from? What does it all mean?!?!


Let's keep having fun with this. We're totally stumbling right now, but this is our first crack at this. No one said it would be easy. Follow the book as it happens on #Twitbook, follow discussions about it on #Twitspambook, and check this page for updates.


Day 2 was a whole lot better. We still lost some authors along the way but the addition of a formal schedule, a clear set of rules, as well as the separation of the @Twitbook discussion thread. I can't stress what a help that separation was. We'd been adding our chapters and discussing everything under the same tag, (#Twitbook), which made things pretty confusing and jumbled. By Day 2, all of our chapter updates were tagged with #Twitbook and all of our discussions were tagged with #Twitspambook. We were also discussing the whole thing here in the comment section, which I suppose makes this The Perfect Storm of Social Media.


The Authors:

This fun, ridiculous and absurd experiment was made possible by all the authors, (hell, even those who abandoned us or opted to sleep instead of publishing their part). I'm glad we could all meet and work together on this. You guys feel like my family now, only completely different.