Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Utility of Twitter

David Harsanyi has an article in Reason about Twitter. He's not a fan:

Pressed by personal, professional, and cultural forces, I sporadically deploy short missives for fear of becoming one of those cantankerous technophobes who is too dense to recognize the miracle of letting "followers" know he hates raisins or that he loved the finale of Mad Men.

Now not only am I expected to transmit this minutiae mere seconds after I think it but also some 20-year-old in California has decreed that I must do it within the brevity of 140 characters. This need for conciseness, in fact, induces normally articulate friends of mine to write in Prince lyrics—recklessly using "2" and "4" and "U" as words[...]

Now, admittedly, Twitter can be entertaining on occasion, as it turns out that 140 characters offers a great chance to be misunderstood—and an even greater chance one will expose his inner troglodyte.

In these past few weeks alone, a clueless Colorado state Sen. Dave Schultheis tweeted, "Don't for a second, think Obama wants what is best for U.S. He is flying the U.S. Plane right into the ground at full speed. Let's Roll." NFL running back Larry Johnson took time out from his busy day of stinking at his job to ridicule his coach and question the heterosexuality (crudely) of a critical tweeter. He lost his job.

So you see, though only a reported 11 percent of Twitter's users are actually teenagers, nearly everyone who participates may end up sounding like one.

So far, the only use for Twitter that I have found is for delivering one-liner comedy, such as Favrd. Otherwise, I'm not sure what it has to offer. How about you?


Jeremy Barker said...

It can be all that Harsanyi said, but can also be a fast way to find out new things - it really depends on who you are following.

For me, I use it like an ancillary blog. There is a lot I see that I don't post and some of it goes to Twitter. I get some decent exposure from that.

bob said...

If we are always typing when do we live.

Divers and Sundry said...

Here's what it has to offer:

I read about his millionth follower on pharyngula this morning.

John said...

I suppose that it's one way to find out information quickly. But I think that, even more so than conventional blogging, it tends toward personal information -- who's picking whose nose and whatnot.

I disagree with Harsanyi's headline - I think that there's no need for a case against Twitter. Technologies are innocent until proven guilty. I just haven't seen Twitter used very effectively yet.

John said...

Bob -- are you suggesting that there's a life to be found outside of flickering boxes? What rubbish!

Larry B said...

Since I work in LED lighting which is a relatively new fast growing field, I use twitter to keep up on any breaking stories in that field. I follow specific companies (Cree for example) who tweet about their new products and uses of their products and have a search list that pulls out articles on LED lighting. It's gotten me several early links on products etc. that have impressed the boss and for that it's been way worth it.

JD said...

I use it for a few reasons:

-use it to update facebook
-follow church leaders and their blogs
-follow a few friends and family members that use it for facebook as well
-follow a few tech blogs and sites
-follow Christian movements such as 2 Futures Project

I don't live on it, but it is a convenient way to keep up with news, trends, and other side interests.