On the Atlantic Tech blog, Alexis Madrigal serves up a timely and fascinating look at the creation and development of the finest Twitter feed of the last six months, @MayorEmanuel. I like how Madrigal connects it to the picaresque novel and the long tradition of carnival figures who expose the masquerade of everyday life. He makes a good observation that the form has a chronological and ongoing aspect that differentiates it, as well as the ability to talk back (which brings to mind the episode in Don Quixote when the characters read Part 1 of Don Quixote.) In that sense, there's a similarity to be drawn out to the satirical periodicals and pamphlets of the 1700s (I'm thinking Jonathan Swift and Ben Franklin here).
Image: When it's Dark Enough You Can See the Stars
the official art for Norton, c/o Ryan Bubnis
One of the most interesting things about Norton was that he was basically used as a @MayorEmanuel type figure by newspapers, who would issue their own proclamations in his name to comment and mock the events of the day. This gave them a rhetorical position more like the shakespearean fool than stately organ of the news, but when reality is suitably absurd and circulation in need of a kick, journalists are left with no choice (cf. Hunter Thompson).
It should be exciting.