OK….I remember a year or so ago saying i’d never join Facebook, and then making myself look a pudding within a month or so when i started using Facebook to keep me in touch with friends after I stopped using another online service.
Now, around the same time I also made a brief investigation of the Twitter service – some more information here. Whilst I can’t argue that it’s popular, and has attracted a vast amount of traffic and interest, including being used in the Australian bushfires and the Mumbai terrorist attacks, I’m still yet to be convinced of the value of telling the world precisely what I’m doing in 140 byte chunks.
Let’s face it, I’m too busy / idle to maintain my Facebook status more than once a day on average, so the idea of me managing to ‘tweet’ happily several times a day on the Twitter system is probably minimal. And I’m not convinced of the overall value of most of the content that seems to be generated on Twitter; allow me to explain.
To begin with, 140 characters is shorter than an SMS message, and unless you’re skilled at putting highly informative short messages together, the informational content of such messages is limited purely by the size of the message, unless you send a string of such messages.
We then move on to whether Tweeting encourages the attention span of a boiled potatoe; it’s a disruptive technology in all the wrng ways – it simply disrupts your attention by a string of pointless inanities appearing in your Phone, Twitter client or web browser.
What does it do that other media doesn’t?
In terms of brevity you have SMS messages or Facebook statuses. In terms of information content you have Email, blogs or Forum posts. Tweets are ephemeral – they’re not naturally persistent and are as short lived as real birdsong.
So, what the Hell is it all about? I’m aware of the use of this sort of technology in crisis situations but is this genuinely making appropriate use of the available technology? I’m yet to be convinced that Twitter is anything but another toy for the technorati, and one whose lifespan in it’s current form is probably going to be limited by the emerging financial realism in the world. I’ve heard of alternative uses – people using hardware to automatically place Twitter messages in to the ‘twittersphere’ form such things as potted plants and the old standby of IT departments, the drinks machine. These messages are then picked up by a piece of software listening on Twitter for ‘tweets’ from the appropriate account. This is nothing different to using UDP packets, for example, but at least there’s a more easily accessible interface here.
But I’m not convinced – someone, anyone, convince me of the value of this application, PLEASE!