April 11, 2008

I’ve had a fair amount of time to investigate some things as I’ve been lying around recuperating from having my ankle screwed back together (actually, I suppose that I’ve been recuperating from breaking my ankle …). Twitter (twitter.com) was first described as a “micro-blog”, and I guess that more or less makes sense.  You have 140 characters on Twitter to describe what you are currently doing. You can find people and then follow them (so that you see their posts), and people can follow you. It all sounds quite stupid, no?    

Well, I’ve tried Twitter a number of times and recently got a little more into it. Being laid up gave me some time to really play with the thing, however, and I’m starting to like it. If all one does is constantly post “I’m eating lunch”, and such, and hope that will actually somehow contribute to the social network, Twitter will get boring very fast.  When it gets interesting is when one starts to find people to follow who actually have things to share.  More often than not these are brief descriptions and links to websites … once these things start coming in on a regular basis Twitter starts to pick up some momentum. Posts arrive instantaneously, so the news is always up-to-date and if smart and interesting people are continually firing good stuff at you it can be fun.  

The whole thing reminds me of earlier days of the web, when the world of possible content to browse was much smaller and it seemed to be possible to keep up.  I stopped really “surfing” years ago in favour of aggregators, but now I find myself going to the far corners of the web for fun again.  Some people become far too self-important or preachy for me and fill my screen with stuff that I don’t care about … with Twitter, I can quite easily adjust the incoming information just by knocking off that one person from my following list. Strangely (to me), there’s continual trickle of new people who have decided to follow me.  I have no idea how they have found me, or what has possessed them, but it’s fun to try to be interesting, and connected, enough for someone to take notice. With some tweaking and searching the lists of interesting people for more people to follow, the flow of info can become quite satisfying. Extremely simple, but strangely functional.

Twitter is definitely not for everyone.  I’m one of those people, though, who likes to be able to hear the unedited thoughts of those I find interesting and click on the stuff that stands out in that flow of info.  I can just imagine people complaining about the volume of info and the lack of organization of the whole thing but to me, that’s part of the appeal. This is very pure social networking. 


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