On Monday, New York Times social media editors Lexi Mainland and Liz Heron announced from the @NYTimes account that all week long, they would be engaging in a social experiment: the automated @NYTimes Twitter account would be complemented by a handwritten approach, with Mainland and Heron taking turns writing tweets. Heron told Poynter that the experiment “is about changing the perception, and it’s about being a little more strategic about what we put out there — finding the most engaging content.”
According to Heron, Times staffers have joined in with the automated feed before, but this is the first time it has been totally turned off. So how has @NYTimes changed since the humans at the Times usurped the cyborgs? As it turns out, the differences between the automated feed and the handwritten one are pretty stark. For avid Twitter users, some of these changes may seem a little duh-worthy, but for a news organization with a notoriously ambivalent relationship with social media, these changes may represent an important attitudinal shift in regards to social networking.