Do You Twitter?
A few months ago, I began using Twitter. I jumped in not really knowing why or understanding what the value would be. As I recall, I noticing that David Armano had started using the service, so I decided to check it out.
Some people have described Twittering as microblogging, but it really isn’t blogging at all. Blogging is like standing up on a soapbox and communicating your opinion. Sure, conversations happen through comments, but they tend to focus on the topics of the individual posts. If you follow bloggers over time, you can develop a sense of where they, and to an extent, their followers, stand on certain topics. While Twitter can be used in many ways, the real value for me comes from the insights I get about the lives of the people I follow.
To those who haven’t used the service, the short, 140-character messages from Twitterers may seem trivial and a complete waste of time. Since I started using the service last March, I’ve posted hundreds of “tweets” and had some really fun conversations about everything from the Dewey Decimal System to beef jerky. You may be asking yourself, why I should care that someone drank Margaritas and fell asleep in the hammock or that someone else missed the train to work. Individually, I don’t, but as I have been following the tweets of certain people, I have gotten to know a lot more about them. I have a much better appreciation for their daily routines, their sense of humor, how they spend their free time, what they are doing at work. The sense of community is greater than anything I’ve seen from blogging because Twitter is more conversational and I believe more personal than blogging.
While it is personal, Twittering is not about getting individual recognition. Hugh MacLeod recently asked “Anyone notice the complete lack of kvetching about “A-List” Twitterers and Facebookers? Unlike blogging, nobody seems to care etc…“. Sure, there are sites that rank you based on the number of followers you have, but where blogging tends to encourage individualism, Twitter is more about collectivism. Wired’s Clive Thompson recently wrote a nice article that makes this point and discusses the Twitter effect of creating a shared understanding of what’s going on within a group and how that makes the group larger than the sum of it’s parts.
If you haven’t tried it, you should. It’s fun and a bit addictive. Also, check out Matt Dickman’s excellent video overview. If you already Twitter, I’d love to get your thoughts on it. Either way, feel free to add me as a Twitter friend.