Monday, September 15, 2008

Me v. Twitter

I've been discussing (via e-mail) with Lauren the merits of internet social tool Twitter. I don't intend to bag on Twitter, but it IS an odd social phenomena. Just as blogging is an absurdly ego-driven push of one's opinions out to the world (as I am doing here), Twitter takes the possibilities of public navel gazing to a whole new level.

By it's 140 character format, clearly no thought can be articulated beyond a spartan, simple expression. We have not yet begun to see the trickle-down effect of the phenomena, but as sure as 14 year olds believe text-speak is okay for other forms of communication, it won't be too long before we're being told that we aren't hip (and are, in fact, dinosaurs) if we can't think and communicate in micro-bursts that somehow encapsulate entire arguments in 140 characters or less. It will be something out of a Stephenson novel.

I suspect that Twittering is in its early stages now. Just as the first years of blogging tools were a mess of yokels like myself with no real direction, but how in a few short years blogs have found that structure equals readership and blogs have been turned into a business/ marketing tool... so, too, I guess, Twitter shall develop. Or must develop.

It's already started, but its a blunt instrument at the moment (which reminds me of Blogger in clunkier, more adorable days).

But until it is refined, it's still a lot of people sort of blogging in microbursts. And, as I said about maintaining a blog such as this... it takes a certain amount of ego. What's tough about Twitter is that there's a tendency to do it often by some, less by others. And at that 140 character limit, and with such a friendly user interface, Twitter becomes a magnet not for observation, but for reporting of minutia.

Which leaves me in the awkward position, that I've been discussing with Lauren, that I feel somewhat obligated to be on Twitter, but I am failing to see the value. And I feel like I'm missing something others find obvious. And I strongly suspect my disinterest in the goings-on of others says nothing good about myself.

But I also suspect that this isn't the last stop for how Twitter is used. And, Lauren had suggestions. Use it to keep up with news, etc... use it for the messaging. Use it to learn new things about people you're following, or to keep up how you feel is appropriate.

My nightmare, as I shared, is that anyone is ASSUMING I am keeping up with them in Twitter. I am sorry to say, if you think I am keeping up with you on Twitter, my readership is pretty spotty. But that's the ego thing, too. I learned long ago not to expect anyone I know is actually reading LoM. And for the ease of Twitter, I suspect many aren't aware of the indifference toward their efforts by friends and loved ones. So... yeah. There it is.

But I am also someone who doesn't relish the idea of iPhone because I don't treasure the idea of everyone I know being able to find me any time via phone, e-mail, IM, etc... all in one box. While I appreciate the technology and business application in particular, I consider myself separate from the technology that I use. It is a tool, it is not a necessity.

Some folks feel the necessity not just to own the iPhone, but to play on it constantly. I sometimes go for days without realizing my phone has been off. The idea of picking up a Blackberry or some other device when my contract is renewed in December runs cold fear down my spine. I have flashbacks to doing work at a Diamondbacks game in Phoenix when they saddled me with a device.

I'm still a control freak. I'm just a control freak about whether my life belongs to me, or to a piece of silicon and plastic in my pocket. And I don't know if that same constant need for communication isn't part of the difference between myself and folks who are jumping headfirst into Twitter.

18 comments:

rhpt said...

You doubts about the iPhone reveals your true Luddite self. I've determined that its the only thing between me and pure happiness.

The League said...

Indeed. Well, may the iPhone in your future fill the gaping hole in your soul then, I guess.

JAL said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JAL said...

(darn you, typos -- reposted)

I think the micro-blog serves its unique purpose and does not need to develop any more that a haiku needs to develop into a sonnet.

The League said...

yeah. No doubt. I'm still trying to figure out what that purpose truly is and how it fits into my communication patterns. And do I have to relearn my communication patterns to accommodate a tool for which I see dubious value?

More importantly, do I have to keep up with every Twitter from every person if it is by mutual social agreement that we're all watching each others' Twitters all the time?

No doubt the Twitter has its place, but I do not believe the social mores have kept up with the technology.

Simon Mac Donald said...

Well I use Twitter and I have an iPhone so I feel that I have to weigh in on this debate.

I use Twitter to publicize my blog posts. Many more people follow my twitter feed than subscribe to my blog so it is a good way to get the work out.

I keep track of the goings on of various friends around the world. It is an easy way to keep in touch with people in Chicago, Philly and the UK.

The polite way to use Twitter used to be to follow everyone who follows you but that is really untenable. The prevailing wisdom now is the follow people who interest you. Also, you can decide whether or not you get device updates, text messages, on a per person basis. This way you are not not bugged by updates from Newsarama at all hours of the day.

After I quit my last job I went 6 months without a cell phone as I was on it close to 24 hours a day. I have now moved to an iPhone and I'm quite happy with it.

Due to the fact it supports wifi and 3G networks I can get internet content where ever I want. Right now it is mostly replacing my laptop for when I want to catch up with the comings and goings of my peeps.

I will never let a cell phone become my leash again!

JAL said...

I think the purpose is what you make of it. What’s the purpose of any hobby, except to extend our personality? Whether others agree or not, I tend to think the majority of blogging falls into the hobbyist / enthusiast category. The “blog” strikes me as being in the same vein as pirate radio or CB chatter, in the terms that it’s a vehicle. (So, you’re kinda like ol’ Jack Burton in that way) For me, it’s easier to post, micro-blog style, than it is to venture into anything much longer. In part because I have little to say and also I don’t have those little things to say too often. A random thought or photograph to exorcise it out of my system is all I need. It’s also a good excuse for me to do something creative.

Another form of blogging may have no place in your communication pattern any more than handing out poetry on the UT campus would be.

I don’t think you can keep up with everyone’s online presence in any regular or realistic manner. Frankly, I don’t know how you and other’s post every single day. I suspect those who blog continually, feel a certain obligation to post daily, and in turn feel the obligation to reciprocate by trying to keep current on everyone else’s blog.

It’s like Jack Burton said, “I’m talkin’ to whoever’s listenin’”

Queenie said...

I just got a Blackberry 2 weeks ago and am addicted to being able to access info anytime, anywhere. But as a busy mommy, it's nice to have that at my fingertips when there is a RARE moment of quiet when I can email, call or look something up...even if it IS in a parking lot. Often at home I don't have that kind of time. That's my Blackberry plug.

I don't have Twitter, but did read one from a friend who once put on there "had bad sushi and have been in and out of the bathroom all day.".....that was the last time I viewed or cared to be on Twitter. Way TMI....sure, not everyone shares that much. But even seeing that once is one time too many for me.

The League said...

I think you nailed it, JAL. As long as I feel like I'm posting, I feel like I have to do it with frequency, and I DO feel like if folks are reading me, I need to be reading them.

And I understand Queenie's comments for her "on the road" lifestyle as a mom. She sort of has the opposite problem that I used to have. No time to GET to the computer.

rhpt said...

If the iPhone doesn't fill the gaping hole in my sould, then I don't know what will.

As JMD told me when he got his: "it completes me".

The League said...

I am sure the mini-van will surely make your life as suburban dad nearly complete.

If only you took to wearing sweaters and thoughtfully smoking a pipe.

rhpt said...

that was a cheap shot.

The League said...

Dude! No offense meant, but if I can't tease you regarding the purchase of your first mini-van, then what CAN I tease you about?

Also, I drive a frikkin' Element for gosh's sake. They don't even have a name for whatever that milk crate is. Van? mini-SUV? mini-school bus? In S. Austin, it's a total mom car.

Queenie said...

Minivans are awesome...I have a Ford Freestar, complete with automatic door openers, a drop down DVD player, iPod hookup, leather seats and the works. If you have to be suburban mom/dad, then do it in style, I say.

The League said...

Randy is just pissy because he had to trade in his limo and the tuxedo'd gorilla he'd trained to drive him around Nashville.

Queenie said...

well, then, get the man a gorilla suit I say.....

rhpt said...

Actually, The Mysterious M is the one who will be the primary driver of the van.

The League said...

Then you should have retained the services of the gorilla so M could ride in comfort, I say.