Sunday, November 18, 2012

Lincoln Would Have Loved Twitter

FCC chair and part-time historian Tom Wheeler wrote a cool book a few years ago titled Mr. Lincoln's T-Mails: The Untold Story of How Abraham Lincoln Used the Telegraph to Win the Civil War.

It attributes the North's victory over the South to Lincoln's embrace of the telegraph, the "killer app" of the 1860s.

Lincoln, as history shows, was a super-skilled telegraph user, while his Rebel foes were, well, late adopters. (They were also late adopters of civil rights, but that's another story.) 

Lincoln, Wheeler contends, took advantage of the real-time nature of the telegraph to direct the Yankees on the battlefield, enabling them to run circles around the Johnnies.

When Mr. Lincoln's T-Mails first hit the shelves, Twitter was only three months old, with hardly any users. But, had he foreseen its surge in popularity, I'm sure Wheeler would have agreed: Lincoln would have loved Twitter.

Of course, Lincoln couldn't have Tweeted top secret orders to his generals. But he could have used Twitter to rouse the troops who followed them.

It's easy to imagine some of the momentous microbursts that might have come from our most articulate president:

During the massive Union rout at First Bull Run. "Stop running! The Marine Corps Marathon is next week, you morons."  

After the Union triumph at Gettysburg. "Rebs in full retreat. Stay tuned. Speech to follow."

After Lee's surrender to Grant at Appomattox. "Mission accomplished. Ulysses, you're doing a heck of a job!"
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