I am aware that in books as in movies, the modern taste is for brevity. At some point early in the next century, I suppose, novels will intersect with the sound bites on the TV news and the bright little self-contained paragraphs in newspapers and magazines. All imagination will be boiled down into smug little info-nuggets. Why is it nobody seems to realize how lots of short little things are exhausting? You have to keep setting your mind back to zero. But the long, deep stuff—the long books, the long movies, and even the TV miniseries—are refreshing, because they give you the time to understand other lives and even, for a time, seem to share them.
Emphasis mine. Written in 1992.
Ebert actually liked Twitter for the way it required you to be concise and witty. But I don't think he would have advocated displacing long-form marination in a topic with short-form peppercorning.
The highlighted part, I think, is the key. Each tweet is its own self-contained universe, and it requires effort to reset yourself to accept it. Effort that we aren't always conscious of. A book tends to be all of a piece; once you open it and start its ride, you tend to know how the ride's going to feel.
This isn't a diss on tweeting per se, or blogging, vs. books. It's just a recognition that it's easy to fall out of the habits of certain kinds of consumption, or never get into them to begin with, and never know what you're missing as a result.
Earlier this week I dove back into reading the complete works of Primo Levi, which I received as a birthday gift. Three slipcased volumes. It's the kind of thing that demands deep commitments of time. Once I started making the commitments, and quit thinking about what else I'd be missing by doing so, it was easier than I realized to sink in as deeply as I needed.