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Tweet with a twist named 'most beautiful'

By Richard Allen Greene , CNN
Marc MacKenzie has modest hopes after his success: he simply wants to top Google's searches for his own name.
Marc MacKenzie has modest hopes after his success: he simply wants to top Google's searches for his own name.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Winner likes to start with a cliche and give it a twist
  • Canadian physicist won after submitting 35 entries
  • Ardent twitter fan Stephen Fry announced result at Hay Literary Festival in Wales
  • MacKenzie goes from 150 followers to more than 1,000 after winning

London, England (CNN) -- Less than six months after joining Twitter, Marc MacKenzie has found his groove -- starting with a cliche and then giving it a twist.

And the talent has paid off. One of his tweets was dubbed the world's most beautiful by British actor and ardent Twitter fan Stephen Fry at the Hay Literary Festival in Wales this weekend.

"Stephen Fry likes my material -- how cool is that?" MacKenzie said Monday.

The winning tweet was: "I believe we can build a better world! Of course, it'll take a whole lot of rock, water & dirt. Also, not sure where to put it."

It was one of dozens MacKenzie, a medical physicist from Canada, submitted to the contest.

"I actually submitted 35 tweets, but mostly because I found it so hard to choose -- they're hit and miss, but sometimes I'm pretty proud of what I've written, and I find it hard to pick a favorite," he told CNN.

He's gone from about 150 followers at twitter.com/marcmack to more than 1,000 since the prize was announced by Fry, who has more than 1.5 million followers.

He has modest hopes for how his success will change his life, he said.

I believe we can build a better world! Of course, it'll take a whole lot of rock, water & dirt. Also, not sure where to put it.
--Marc MacKenzie's winning tweet
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"Here's a request for readers: currently, if I Google myself (and who doesn't), the top hit is a fictional character from a defunct BBC TV series. Well, if someone wants to start a Wikipedia entry on me, I could be happy knowing I'm no longer coming in second to a fictional character," he said.

Sometimes he simply stumbles onto a good tweet, he said.

"A certain percentage of my tweets start with a cliche, but then I give it a twist. I enjoy finding the ridiculous in the trite, and even better when it hints at a deeper truth," he said.

"They're also often taken from my strange inner dialogue or from conversations I've had where I've said something odd. This is often," he added.

He backed into Twitter after his friends found his Facebook status updates funny, he said, and found he liked the microblogging site.

"I admire the form. It's like a Web 2.0 Haiku," he said.

"I was a very early Facebook adopter," he said, "I was intrigued by Twitter, which seemed to be ... well, like FB, but with only updates. I like the challenge of Twitter even more, though -- if brevity is the soul of wit, forcing the compacting of a humorous idea into 140 characters encourages economy and getting to the essence of what you want to say."

But he's suspicious of some of the ubiquitous abbreviations on Twitter, he said: "I really don't believe people are laughing out loud as often as they say they are."

The Hay crown is the second time MacKenzie's done well in a Twitter contest. He was a finalist in a CBC-sponsored contest in Canada, Canada Writes, which prompted a friend to recommend he enter the contest at the Hay Literary Festival, held in the village of Hay-on-Wye on the Welsh-English border every year.

He didn't expect to win, he said.

"I mean, I'm a PhD physicist, not a professional writer, but I really do enjoy when I can get a funny tweet down," he said.

He's not letting success go to his head, if his Twitter feed is any indication.

Late Sunday night, he tweeted: "Can't sleep. Too keyed up on praise from @StephenFry. Maybe I need a huge 'screw you' from @HughLaurie to balance it out."