Gallipoli Twitter

23 April 2010

For the past few months I’ve been following a blog set up by the Australian War Memorial where they are recreating the diary of Herbert Vincent Reynolds by posting the entires from his diary on the days they were written. Herbert Vincent Reynolds enlisted in the First World War with the 4th Field Ambulance and went on to serve at Gallipoli.

One thing I’ve noticed about reading the blog posts is how similar they are to Twitter posts. Many of the entries are very short and the manner in which they are written is typical of what you would find in a tweet. I went back through the diary entries to analyse their content and measure the number of characters in each entry. The average number of characters per diary entry between 2nd Feb 1915 and 21st April 1915 was 342 characters. The longest diary entry so far has been 4066 characters long, but many of the entries are less than 250 characters, and really are just short snippets of information about the events of the day. They aren’t beautifully written entries.

Reading through the diary I’m convinced that if Herbert Vincent Reynolds had access to Twitter back in 1915, he would have used it to post his diary entries. The similarities in the writing styles and structure in the methods of communication nearly a hundred years apart is uncanny. It’s also interesting to note that the Australian War Memorial is using their Twitter feed to promote the diaries.

3 Responses to “Gallipoli Twitter”

  1. Bobby Says:

    I think your analysis and findings are very interesting: short, daily entries of a few words only. Is this why Twitter is so successful? I don’t need to be a talented writer to contribute my thoughts. Although it is quite fun to try and say something splendid in so few words.

  2. Penny Says:

    GMTA–this was Wednesday’s post at the blog of the Connecticut Historical Society Library:

  3. Bob Meade Says:

    Paul, I’ve been reading that AWM blog too but hadn’t made the comparison with Twitter until you mentioned it. You’re right .

    Funnily enough, so does David Ferriero, Archivist of the United States. He compares Tweeting to early diarists in his blog here: