I just wasted a couple minutes reading the ten commandments of twitter. I’m reluctant to even link to such twaddle, but go ahead, read it, it’ll give you some context.
I continue to be baffled by self-important self-proclaimed pundits who feel the need to tell me how I should use the Internet. Twitter is yet another online chat forum, and nothing more. To tell me that I need to define a goal for Twitter is somewhat like telling someone “you need to define a goal for conversation, and then every conversation you have needs to be working towards that goal.”
The goal of conversation varies from one conversation to another. Some are about relationships, some are about purchasing tuna fish, and some are about criticizing folks who feel the need to tell me that I need to pick an overarching goal for all of my conversations.
Another pet peeve of mine that shows up in this ludicrous post is the assertion that I must grow my followers. People who define their worth in terms of the number of twitter followers they have, or in terms of the traffic that their blog receives, or in terms of how many barflies gather around them to listen to their inane jokes, are missing the point of human relationship. And it’s just really sad.
Relationships are not a popularity contest. The person with the most followers doesn’t win. They merely have an enormous list of other popularity contest contestants gathering around them hoping that something will rub off.
Please don’t tell me how I should use my blog, or Twitter, or Facebook, or whatever else. If you view conversation as nothing more than a marketing opportunity, chances are your conversation is of the cold and sterile sort anyways, and I really won’t want to emulate that.
So, it appears that I was wrong. I can deal with that.
I tend to pick up Twitter during a conference, because it’s a useful way to keep track of what other folks are attending and doing at the conference. Then I drop it afterwards.
But after Amsterdam, I kept doing it. I’m not sure why. I think it’s a combination of things. I think perhaps the list of people I’m following got long enough that it was actually interesting to keep track of what someone had for breakfast, or more likely with the group I follow, what continent they are on today. So presumably it’s all about how interesting the folks you’re following actually are.
And, as a consequence, I’ve been posting more there myself, although what I post is hardly as interesting as some of the folks I follow.
Still, I can’t imagine what their business model is, and how they can possibly afford to keep running this service long term, unless someone buys them and starts placing ads, or something. Not sure how far the ad model scales. I have’t clicked on an ad this year. Don’t know about you.
While I’m still not sure that I’ll ever use Twitter on a regular basis, it seems that it’s amazingly useful for a conference, or other event where a bunch of people are in close proximity to one another, and it’s useful to know where each one of them are – say, what talk they are attending, where they’re going for dinner, what they think of the keynote. Of course, even then, it’s only useful if everyone updates it regularly.
It turned out to be quite handy during ApacheCon, but I expect that I’ll stop using it pretty quickly now that I’m back in the real world. You know, unless everyone at work suddenly started using it, in which case it might actually become a useful work tool, and replace the department-wide “I’m going over to a meeting” kinds of messages.
Ok, after a little thought, here’s my revised take on Twitter.
Twitter appears to be a hosted blog service. Nothing more nor less. The only thing innovative about it is that it limits your postings to 90 characters, and thus encourages you to post less, more frequently. Since I already have a blog, if people want to subscribe to my RSS feed, well, I’ve already got one. And it doesn’t limit me to 90 characters. If I can say something in 90 characters, it probably wasn’t worth saying.
I’ve been finding the Twitter phenomenon truly baffling. Why would I care to post an up-to-the-minute timeline of my life? Why would I care to follow such a timeline of someone else? And yet, lots of seemingly intelligent people are participating in this, and seem to think that it’s pretty cool, and, dare I say it, USEFUL. I’m not sure I need yet another thing to fill my already-too-busy time, and posting updates to a website so that strangers can read it just seems somewhat exhibitionist. Even more exhibitionist than having a blog.
But even weirder, it seems it’s supposed to be keeping your friends appraised of what’s going on in your life, without the inconvenience of actual interpersonal interaction.
Dunno. Perhaps I’ll give it a try, but I really can’t see myself sticking with this for more than a few seconds.