(Day 2) TwitLit: Classic Literature, 140 characters at a time

Hello and welcome to Day 2 of my NaBloPoMo! Yesterday I talked about the idea of writing a blog post a day all month as a bit of a writing challenge for me.

Today, I’m going to talk about an idea for a programming project that I’ve had, but it has not come to fruition yet. This will be the first of a few “idea dumps” in which I attempt to express my ideas about future projects or things that I find interesting.

In today’s world of ever-connectedness and instant gratification, many people feel that they don’t have time to just sit down and read anymore. But these same people you can see posting on facebook and twitter for a considerable amount of time each day. What if we could turn this around and use social networking and the culture of short and sweet bytes of information to our advantage? What if you could actually *gasp* learn something just from following a twitter account?

My idea for today is for what I’d call TwitLit: Classic Literature 140 Characters at a time. TwitLit is a bot that interacts with twitter to automatically post a 140 character selection from a work of classic literature each day (or possibly, every few hours or so). People who find they “can’t get around to reading” or who have trouble staying focused on long periods of reading can follow the account and although it may take a while, can eventually “read” a book, just by checking the twitter feed.

The implementation details of this are still a bit fuzzy to me, mostly because I literally just thought of this idea yesterday, but I think I’d like to work in Python for this. Some books are really long and it would be difficult to complete a “reading” 140 chars at a time for something like War and Peace, but perhaps shorter books or poetry would work better, as a proof of concept. A bit of preliminary research shows that “Twitterature” has been done before, but from what I can tell, they condense the works into just a few tweets. If I find some spare time in the next few days, maybe I’ll start working on this. What work should I start with?