I have nothing to say about Twitter and I’m saying it


Pardon me if I don’t blog about Twitter.

I’ve had more fun with it than any other web application in ages, certainly since the glory days of YouTube (back when they didn’t care about respecting copyright). But I have no desire to post my Tweets on my blog (or vice versa), and most of the Twitterhacks I see leave me cold. I would prefer not to spoil the fun with analysis.

That is not a swipe at my friends and heroes who are thinking hard about what 140 character doses of text might mean for educators. At the very least, their efforts mean my Twittime counts as “applied research” rather than “goofing off.” I am grateful.

I’ll spare you my own wishlist for how I’d like to see Twitter improve. I know that it’s hard to search for people, and that it can be disorienting to track conversations across accounts. I’ll admit I’d like to hide some of my Twits from some people. But Twitter is the garage band (not GarageBandTM) of web applications — clunky, unprofessional, lots of missed notes, yet possessed of glorious shambling charm.

I’ve said in the past that I think of this blog as the equivalent of the “hallway chatter” I might engage in when at a conference. If that holds, then my worktime twits are like the snarky remarks I whisper during other people’s presentations, and my offtime ones more like the trash talk I spill at the pub just before last call.

I’ve felt for some time that Twitter would have a short shelf life. If it continues to grow in popularity the intimacy and backchannel quality of the dialogue will die — I already have more Twitfriends than I feel comfortable with. And I figured it wouldn’t be long before people would burn out on it (people drop out all the time), or move to a more feature-rich alternative.

But I didn’t expect harbingers of doom to appear so quickly. Already there is movement toward Jaiku, which is superior to Twitter in every respect except its user community, positively loaded with nifty features. Think of it as prog rock. The recent and relentless instability of Twitter (I do wish they’d ditch the server problem lolcats) has prompted rumbles of revolt from the Twits — there was an aborted revolution in my circle yesterday. Part of me doesn’t really see this as an important choice — we have RSS after all, and I doubt it will be long before our micro-blogging community is no more significant than our choice of blogging platform.

I’m uncomfortable with the tenor of this post, which has veered uncomfortably close to analysis for my liking. I’d really just prefer to let the mystery be and have fun with it.

I had hoped to maintain a similar professional distance from Facebook, and just enjoy making lists of my favorite bands and hooking up with old friends again. But then they went all social networking platform on us, and I think given the usage levels on campus and their rather fearsome chops that’s just too significant a development to ignore. I certainly would be freaking out if I was holding Blackboard stock today. I’d say that Andy’s Stamp Syndicate (background here) is a much safer investment at this point.

3 thoughts on “I have nothing to say about Twitter and I’m saying it

  1. Beautifully said! Twitter exists for me because of folks like you who see it as a play thing. I like it as a place for banter and immediate resources. What really hit me about Twitter was something that Keira tweeted at Antonella, to the effect of, and I paraphrase here, “blogging’s great if you have a nanny, otherwise twitter fits the bill perfectly.” Blogging is still my mode of choice, but having Anto on Twitter and tapping into Keira and other folks who may not have that inclination or time investment for blogging (which is huge!) -this is a quick and easy outlet. Moreover, Anto is not overly concerned with RSS features, del.icio.us, etc. and I have been working hard on all those fronta -and I can sell, believe you me. But Twitter just made sense for her almost immediately -she just wants a space to have a little fun and throw stuff out there. This whole thing made me really see how powerful this little web app is -warts and all. But why twitter- chance, timing, or maybe because the argument for moving doesn’t really make sense for someone who has a growing community, could care less about the peripherals, and is not overly concerned if a few tweets get swallowed up.

    Having said this, I have been avoiding getting to righteous about twitter because I see it as riding a really long, sick wave of conversations. Not to forget the fact that I had completely discounted Twitter a few months back as pure banality on one of D’Arcy’s posts. I guess I didn’t realize how much fun the banality is when you contribute.

  2. “Already there is movement toward Jaiku, which is superior to Twitter in every respect except its user community”

    hmm… well, it depend, I would say.

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