Get Shorty

Feb 10, 2009 4:38pm

You know about Twitter, right?  The website-turned-phenomenon that allowed people to send short — 140 characters or less — updates about where they were and what they were doing? Like all good things that draw an audience, Twitter users are now eligible to win awards.  They’re known, perhaps inevitably because of the super-brief "tweets," as the Shorty Awards. The ceremony is Wednesday night, in Brooklyn, N.Y., just across the Brooklyn Bridge from Manhattan, and one winner has already announced itself: NASA’s Mars Phoenix spacecraft.  Over the summer, after it landed near the Martian north pole, it tweeted and tittered away about its progress in finding frozen water, and, perhaps, new signs that Mars had once been a good place for life. Truth be told (and it was many times), the tweets were actually coming from the press office at the Jet Propulsion Lab in California, where Veronica McGregor, the news chief, became tweeter-in-charge and author of such tweets as these: 4:50 p.m.: Parachute is open!!!!! come on rocketssssss!!!!!
4:54 p.m.: I’ve landed!!!!!!!!!!!!!
4:55 p.m. Cheers! Tears!! I’m here! Why, Veronica was asked, did the Phoenix lander describe itself in the first person?  Because "I" took up less space than "the spacecraft." (If you look, you’ll find Mars Phoenix tweets continuing, even though the ship gave out in the Martian cold back in November.  They’re talking up other missions.) At the risk of giving up some journalistic distance, Veronica is a sunny, fun, very capable person, and it’s nice to hear she and her co-conspirators are getting some recognition — even if it means coming from Southern California to New York in February.

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