My friend and respected colleague Rob McDonagh just posted a rant on Why Twitter Sucks, and to me it seemed very much like the old codger saying “Get off my lawn” so I figured I would write why I think Twitter rules in a rebuttal to the fair Captain. So read his rant first, and then you can come back here. Ready? Good, lets begin:
- There are No Unread Marks – Actually I agree with this, I would like it myself. But my guess is that there is a programmer somewhere who can work this out. It can’t be that hard. Also, follow your twitter stream in an RSS reader and you’ve got yourself unread marks.
- People use twitter to say the Most Inane things – Very true, but many times I actually love these little details. It helps me keep in context the fact that people have a life outside the technology. Seeing that someone watches a certain TV show might make me take a look at that show myself. And more than once, seeing what someone was about to eat gave me a craving for the same thing. I like it. I guess if you don’t like people that post those things, you can always stop following them.
- Conversations are disjointed – This is true too, but like Rob pointed out, if people used the proper conventions it’s much easier. And there are tools like Quotably that help in this regard.
- 140 characters? – Yes, 140 characters. Deal. If you can’t then send an email or an IM. I find that having to condense what I’m going to tweet about into 140 characters makes things more concise and easier to handle. It’s a texting world, 140 characters is practically a novel to the kids these days.
- No concept of stopping and starting a day – Okay, and this is a problem why? See, I think you have to view twitter in a certain perspective. If you consider Twitter to be a bar or a party, you can come and go as you want, and when you are there you are part of conversations, you might go to the bathroom and miss a conversation but that doesn’t mean you grill everyone on what you missed, you contribute to the people you are around at the time. Think of it as hanging out with a group of friends, and it becomes much easier to handle…
- Twitter auto updating Facebook – Seriously, you are complaing about THIS? Both statuses (along with every other site with a status) is meant for you to post your current status. To me they are one and the same. Friends who are only on Facebook see the same thing as people who are only on Twitter. Everyone is updated equally. The fact that things like ping.fm can update statuses all over the place allows ease of use for the poster and allows users at ANY of the services to get the same information.
- Responses that don’t make sense to people we don’t follow – I actually kinda LIKE this. You know why? Because on more than one occassion reading the reply lead me to read the original person’s tweet, and then in turn I started to follow them because they were interesting. I ignore the ones that don’t make sense or aren’t interesting to me. You need to be less obsessive compulsive about reading every little thing. Once again, think of it as a party where people are chatting. Think of the “don’t make sense” tweets as times when you walk up to a friend talking to a stranger and hear the tail end of a conversation. Maybe you jump in and meet someone new, or maybe you walk on by.
- Spam in twitter – You’re getting nitpicky now. Of course, some people that can follow you are spammers, but if you don’t follow them, you don’t get spam IN Twitter. If you are talking about follow requests, you are diving too deep here.
- People tweet instead of blogging – Yup, and it’s absolutely wonderful. There are many times I have a thought that I want to keep track of, but I don’t really have enough to base a full blog post on, so I tweet it. Sometimes the conversation in Twitter gets big enough to finally warrant a blog post, sometimes not. I find it increasingly harder to find time to fully blog, so being able to micro-blog on occassion is beneficial to me, and probably to many others. In fact, I bet there are some people for whom Twitter is a much better medium for them to share thoughts than a full-on blog.
Another reason I like twitter is because of my two best friends, Mike and Tim. They live several hours away, and I only get to see them a couple times a year (kinda like certain Lotusphere buddies.) Anyway, we can email and chat (and we do) but Twitter feels more like we are hanging out. One of us will say something, and we’ll respond to each other and rip on each other and stuff like that. I like knowing the details of what they guys are doing at work too. It really seems more like we are hanging out and chatting over a beer than anything else. To me, twitter has a more personal feel to it than pretty much any of the other “social” mechanisms out there.
Now take TwitNotes. Having that open in my sidebar simply rules. Much love to Mikkel for doing it for us. While I’m at work I live in the Notes client. Having to flip back and forth to a twitter client or the website gets annoying. Having it pop up in the Notes 8 sidebar is easy, and at a glance I can see the latest information. If I want to jump in, I can. 140 characters here and there is easy to do and not really a drain on productivity.
The other thing about Twitter is that I learn things I never would have by traditional means. Late last year, a tweet I responded to saved me about $500 in an electonics purchase. I know that Rob probably falls in that same boat there, and because of Twitter, he has $500 more in his pocket. To me, that’s enough to keep on using it right there.
So, in essence, I think Twitter rules. And I’ve thought so for awhile, but I couldn’t really explain it well until now. So thanks for that Captain, you’ve inspired me to put into words what I’ve been thinking for awhile! Twitter is like a large party where you are hanging out with friends, and if you treat it that way, it makes a lot more sense, and becomes a lot easier to manage in your head.
Sorry for the silence for the last couple of weeks. I’ve had a lot of stuff going on getting ready for Lotusphere and the holidays. Some really cool stuff that I should be able to talk about soon.
In the meantime, I’ve also finally signed up for Twitter. I always thought that the microblogging of every little thing you do is kinda unnecessary, but the more I’ve played with Twitter, the more I’ve liked it. It’s nice to see quick updates from friends (and people in the industry.) Some things just aren’t full blog post worthy, so being able to read and post those type of things is really cool. In fact, Twitter played an important role in me getting a new toy for Christmas. In that sense, it’s already been worth the price of admission!