Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Twits

My chum Peter Anghelides is newly blogging, and today has a post about Twitter. I don’t get Twitter. At least, I don’t get what it would do for me.

If I was Stephen Fry, for example, off chasing kakapos round the world and generally being exciting, I can see how a microblog mechanism would be a great way of keeping in with ordinary mortals. On Facebook I get how status updates let you keep in with your friends and relations without all the arduous bother of speaking to them.

And I get that Twitter and Yammer and all these clever things make it easy to address the world in snippets. But the problem is the same one as with any media: what interesting thing will you say?

#Simon is wearing grey socks today
#Simon has drunk three cups of hot water this afternoon, in a Richer Sounds mug
#Simon hopes the moth-man got rid of the moths
#Simon will type this then catch the train home
#Simon is boring himself

At least with blogging you can try to explain and connect and illuminate. (No really, that’s what I think this blog is for, even if I’m only explaining, connecting and illuminating the bleeding obvious to myself.)

But then I’ve also struggled for the last month to come up with that list of 25 interesting things about me which even the Dr has filled out on Facebook. I’m stuck on about 11. It’s probably why I make stuff up for a living.

Wondrous persons like Stephen Fry – and Peter – evangelise twitter. So I watch on baffled but willing to be persuaded. Can someone please explain?

(I like how Peter’s blog lists his written achievements. I should sort something like that for here and do away with that whacking long list in my right-hand navigation.)


Tara O'Shea said...

I've had a twitter account since it first started up, but never really used it until this last week. Mostly, I use it to update my Facebook status lines. Only with fewer obscure song lyrics. It seems to serve much the same purpose--and as with Facebook, I can at a glance know what all my mates are up to a few times a day. So it feels as if I'm keeping up with everyone, even when we don't actually interact. That said, I think I might prefer Facebook, in the end. Then again, could be I'm just not used to twitter yet. Ask me in a year, when I'm a proper convert that's drunk the Kool-aid.

Rob Stradling said...

* You can publish a single, random thought without the need to give it a context.

* You can develop an idea AND share it, at the same time.

* You can amuse / distract / insult friends in small, easily-handled doses.

* You can get insights into a twitterer that may not emerge in a more disciplined medium; Fry's now famous rant at his Sony Vaio would never have made the cut anywhere else.

* You know those "can anyone think of any other exmples?" email threads? Twitter is a much better place for that.

* Following live events is actually interesting. Albeit in a small way, I actually felt involved in "Gally" (sorry, "#gally") this year.

Oh, and BOO to Blogger for not allowing < ul > tags!

"pednem": Dutch unit of time, equivalent to ten paces of a walking child.

Rob Stradling said...

Also - like so many plugged-in Londoners, I think perhaps you don't fully appreciate what it's like to live in a different city / country to a great many of one's friends.

Hearing from Belch every day (e.g.) is enriching, even if he's not saying anything profound. 'Cos I like him, see?

"redome": maintenance shaving for the near-bald.

Nimbos said...

Twitter has an immediacy which blogging simply doesn't have.

F'rexample - I regularly read Bad Science, but it was only following Ben Goldacre on Twitter that I knew he was just about to appear on Newsnight. So I tuned in.

Can also be useful for a "consult the hive mind" questions in ways which previously we'd have used the power of various private discussion groups we're both familiar with.

Some things you just can't tell what you'll use it for until you give it a go. I'm honestly not using Twitter for what I expected to.

Oh, and Rob, one day I'll tweet something profound just to astonish you :-)

0tralala said...

Oh, sod it.

Tara O'Shea said...

Good to know you're clearly above being swayed by peer pressure.

So ARE you wearing grey socks today?

Anonymous said...

Stradling has covered severl of the key things for me already. I might phrase them thus:

* You choose who can "overhear" you. At the moment, I have "open access", so anyone can listen in. That qualifies some of things I tweet, of course.

* You can "think aloud" to the group on "work in progress", and get comments/feedback. This may be the wisdom of the crowd, or the foolishness of the herd.

* It updates my Facebook status, so I get more details comments and suggestions through that, too.

* It's handy for "breaking news" at live events.

Liesa Reichelt coined the splendid phrase "Ambient Intimacy" for it: "... being able to keep in touch with people with a level of regularity and intimacy that you wouldn’t usually have access to, because time and space conspire to make it impossible."

PS: You have linked my written achievements to Stephen Fry's Twitter page. Which is flattering, though inaccurate.

0tralala said...

Thanks everyone for the comments. Tara, today my socks are a sort of sandy colour. And Peter, I've corrected that link. Whoops.