Thursday, April 30, 2009

A Word About Twitter - Or - Why I'm Twitching Instead of Tweeting

Okay, Twitter has now made the national vernacular. Awesome! Another way for us to dumb ourselves down all while being the voyeuristic weenies we are as a nation. I don't think I could encapsulate a single thought into 140 characters (I looked it up, I admit), much less do so on a daily, or in some cases hourly basis. Again, I went to the Web site to find out what it's all about, and all I could find was that the idea is that you're supposed to announce "what you're doing."

My thought remains: who cares? And those that do, will ask. Those that don't, why broadcast it for them? And why do we all (or at least so many of us that he took on CNN in a Twitter-off) care that Ashton Kutcher's in the car thinking up another Punk'ed?

So of course, now that twitter has entered the public consciousness, every company on the face of the earth thinks it can and should tweet. I don't agree. I think there are several problems with twittering in the corporate world. At least from the literal perspective of Twitter's professed and ongoing question, "what are you doing?" Ultimately, I don't think it's wise either from the company's perspective, or from the public's, for all companies to tell us what their doing. A think tank, for example, or maybe the guy who tests chairs. Surely we're all doing just fine knowing that the septic tank guy is quietly at work without letting us know what he's slogging through today. And I really would rather the airline pilot stick to flying the plane, not tell us he's/she's doing it.

That said, there are probably some people that I would have liked to twitter a little sooner than later - Madoff (my pet annoyance, obviously), whoever chose Bjork's swan outfit at the Grammys that year and of course whoever spread the swine flu (which will likely be my next blog topic).

And does knowing that someone not in front of us is doing something behind our backs really make us closer to them? What have we learned? How does it matter? Is there some other way to communicate it (like picking up the phone, emailing, faxing, blogging, Facebook, texting and the ever-popular shouting from the rooftops)?

Anyway, I guess what I'm saying is that privacy is still a good thing, and one that should be maintained. We don't all need to know, or even want to know what everyone's doing, and while the subscription service does protect us somewhat, it's still scary to me know that somewhere out there, Shaquille O'Neal is putting his shoes on.

That said, I'm still going to blog - and I'm wearing a blue shirt and khakis, don't I look spiffy, need a haircut, though. (67 characters exactly, phew! Made the limit)

So until the fourth wall is completely broken down, just do as I say and not as I do, and we'll all be alright.

1 comment:

  1. Okay, I'll bite: Twitter isn't something you can understand through observation. You have to do it, and through doing it, you discover what, if any, utility it has for you (other than a major time suck).

    Professionally, Twitter is a massive learning opportunity for me. Folks in our industry (communications, marketing, branding, etc.) are incredibly active on Twitter, and being able to "listen in" on those conversations is fascinating. You get an immediate sense of what's going on, what people think about it, and who the thought leaders are (uh, NOT Ashton Kutcher). It's also a great way to point people to your blog for more in-depth conversation.

    Personally, it's a way to know what friends and family are up to--little windows into their days and mindse--that at once is both more immediate and more intimate than Facebook. So whether it's my sister wrestling through her latest draft of a feature spec, or an old friend from high school's witty and pained commentary on Starbucks' description of the new Andrew Bird album, Twitter serves--counterintuitively--to solidify my social network rather than to break it down.

    Why? All those 140 character tweets build a much bigger picture, when taken as a whole, than a one-shot post, and the forced brevity is like a Bat Masterson precis made real--you have to boil everything down to its root elements. (I find it interesting that of the two folks I mention above, the former has abandoned her blog, and the second removed his profile from Twitter is my only digital connection to both of them.)

    Practically, however, I'll point out that Twitter is useless without something like TweetDeck or Seesmic that allows you to segment those you follow and bubble up the most important ones.

    So, rather than watching the stream as a whole, find a few people you know, look at their profiles, and see what I mean: