Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Twitter -- the birdsong of 500 lb. canaries with bullhorns?

What is the deal with Twitter? I just don't get it! I'm with Kathy Sierra on this one. (For those who don't know, Kathy Sierra is one of my all-time heroes -- a brilliant educator, writer and blogger who shut down last year due to misogynistic death threats. Would the bullying have been so egregious, or would it even have happened at all if Kathy had been a male? We'll never know, but you should really check out the link. Kathy makes her points eloquently and there's no point in me paraphrasing it. Let her speak for herself beyond the cyber "grave" of self-banishment.)

I wouldn't have given Twitter the time of day except that my very good friend John Sechrest suggested I get on. So I did, thinking hmmm... maybe there's something I'm missing. But no, not really. It's all about the tweeting -- posting your stream of consciousness into the world. Now there's normal sweet little songbird tweeting, but it can easilly escalate and approach megatweeting, which evokes image of a 500 pound canary on steroids blaring nonstop with the aid of a bullhorn. Some people feel compelled to share their every fleeting impulse. Look at me! I'm eating breakfast. Look at me I'm waiting for the bus. Look at me I'm listening to [fill in latest inane band.] Don't these people have anything to, like, do?

The mind boggles as to the datamining possibilities from the Twitter stream. Could you offset it all by timezone and see if certain keywords come up more at certain hours? Could you crosstab the complexity of the vocabulary with the frequency of posting? Clearly you could break it down by geography. Could you mine the streams according to demographics and sell it to advertisers? My guess is somebody IS. What a great source of free MARKETING data!

I have NEVER, nor will I EVER hook twitter up to my cell phone. I find that damn phone infuriating enough to use-- just torquing my way through the select and click menu is painful so I am not gonna inflict any more of it on myself. Oh, and never mind texting. Speaking of bad ideas: I think texting is a great way of leaving a brief message, especially when you want to transmit an email or a phone number, but I think it's a horrible way to do normal ordinary communication. What is the attraction? At least in Europe it makes sense because in Europe you pay for mobile service by bandwidth, and clearly texting is low bandwidth. In USA we pay extra for text. Texting with a phone is cumbersome and slow, though I guess with practice you can get good at it -- still I defy anyone to text as fast as I can talk when I'm on a roll.

Let's face it, I am basically an introvert, and, like Kathy, I need blocks of time free of interruptions to really accomplish anything. Twitter can tweet merrily along without much from me.

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