Various friends have been urging me to get with the program and start to tweet on Twitter. I looked into it, opened an account, but couldn’t see exactly why or how I could use it.
I’m certainly not alone – the blogosphere is full of people tittering at twitterers who write “I’m going to brush my teeth” or “Leaving the house” as though the entire universe needed to know. But it’s just as common to find that the news reports from the attack in Mumbai a year ago were only possible because people tweeted from all around the scene, and others aggregated them and used them to cross-check facts before reporting, resulting in amazingly good coverage around the world in a very short time.
What you make of it. David Pogue wrote in the New York Times last February of his doubts about the utility of Twitter, and the long process of learning to make it useful. He concluded that Twitter Is What You Make Of It. I suspect this is an accurate perspective. I know several people who use it to send a long stream of links to interesting articles. My Blackberry makes this approach really enticing: I can be reading something interesting, hit “send to Twitter” and add a few words and poof! I’ve communicated. In fact, I’ve done this a few times – and I am publicly repenting.
Digital firehose. There is simply too much information flowing around for anyone to think deeply about the dozens of digital blips that come by every day. What could I possibly say in approximately 120 characters that would convey how a particular item touched me, or the questions it raises, or the reason for my utter incredulity and outrage that it happened, or the geekish pleasure it brings me? Perhaps if I were a haiku poet, I could do better. But I’m a social scientist, so I need a lot of words to say anything.
Which brings me to the Tentative Tweet. This blog’s new home at WordPress.com includes the option to send out a tweet with every post – automatically or with some editing. I plan to try it out for a while; folks who prefer to get a lot of short notices and choose which to read can find me at ebogue on Twitter. Rather than sending dozens of links half-clothed into the world, I’ll let the blog posts send out a calling card.
In the meantime, perhaps I’ll discover what else it can do.
(Yes, Tweetie Pie was a favorite of mine when I was a child.)