Twitter Thoughts

So I recently joined Twitter. So here's some random thoughts about it:

  1. De facto blog aggregator. It's actually a good substitute for an RSS feed, and because it's very low cost for someone to recommend a post (i.e., they don't have to blog about it), it's a really good way to be exposed to posts by people whose blogging you find interesting.
  2. Blog aggregation isn't enough. If all your feed is your blog or business feed, I'm not interested either.
  3. You can Tweet too much. My rule for adding people is that I look at their feed. If there's too many tweets (>~8/day), I usually don't add them (occasionally, a master of the form is worth reading). You're pushing all of the other Tweeties down feed. Do I really need to know the following (in reverse order):

    Going to ice cream store.

    Just ordered ice cream w/sprinkles

    I really like sprinkles

    Cara likes sprinkles too

    Ugh. What a fucking waste.

  4. Not much in the way of actual commentary. Maybe it's too new, or maybe I follow the wrong people, but I haven't seen any really sharp political or cultural commentary. I sort of hope this remains be the case, since many things shouldn't be readily addressed in 140 characters or less.
  5. Humor with 140 characters is hard. Sadly, many don't realize that, although here's an exception.

If you tweet, what's your experience and opinions of it so far? And feel free to leave your feed address below (leave only the name; e.g., "mikethemadbiol". Sometimes, http links send the spam filter into a tizzy).

More like this

As long as you don't answer the question 'What are you doing?', but instead say something that other people might actually be interested in, Twitter can be worthwhile. Maybe.

Ultimately, I see Twitter as a way to keep in touch with my friends. I've seen it likened to "distributed IM", which I think is close to the right analogy.

The fuss over Twitter as a political tool is a frickin' joke; the best they've managed is the #amazonfail thing, which is most likely just a bit of sound and fury and in all likelihood a meta-troll anyway. I find it hilarious that Republicans have got such a hard-on for it, even going so far as to declare it "the one thing Republicans do online better than liberals".

I like the unidirectional mechanic behind "following", so that unlike Facebook I can send and receive messages with people I don't actually follow or who don't follow me. I suspect this is why celebrity Twittering has caught on like it has. Facebook is useless for people who are even moderately well known. Even a nobody like me has managed to pick up close to 200 Facebook friends, and they're nearly all people I've interacted with in real life in some capacity. Moving up to a mid-rank blogger like yourself or Rebecca Watson, that's thousands of "friends" that swamp the people you actually know, completely defeating the purpose of being on a social networking site to start with. Twitter rather neatly solves that problem by separating "following" from "followers".

But as for serious communications? Yeah, it's better as a blog aggregator than a way to actually have a serious discussion. 140 characters is often more than you think, but it's ultimately not a whole lot. I'm a little impressed that it's useful at all, even for light-weight social communication.

Now excuse me while I Twitter about this.

I use Twitter basically as a temporary bookmarking tool.

On my blog I do a regular series in which I link to all the most interesting articles that I found on the Internet since the previous installment (at the moment installments are twice-monthly).

I use my Twitter account (username: GoldHoarder) to store nominations for the next installment, links that I may or may not use. Really this is for my own convenience, but people can follow along if they want to and get a sneak preview of my next collection of interesting stuff. It's mostly PhysOrg news articles and ScienceBlogs writeups, etc, but also the occasional miscellaneous item that I just stumbled across.

I do not follow anyone on Twitter. I would rather read a blog.