For those of you that don’t know what twitter is… Basically, it’s a DIY (do it yourself) chat room. You choose people that you want to “follow”, and you can see when they type something to the twitter site. People can choose to follow YOU, and they’ll see what you type to twitter. There’s no forced mutual following, so sometimes, it’s a one-sided deal. You can see what someone’s saying, but they can’t see what you’re saying… which is unfortunate for them when they ask a question that you “tweet” (somehow the verb form of twitter…… meaning each entry should be called a TWIT or the site should be called TWEETER, but anyway…) the answer to and then an hour later, you see them ask again if anyone has a solution for them. 😀
I think twitter’s more effective in areas where people are in relatively close proximity to each other or at least can get to where other twitterers (tweeters?) indicate that they are or that something’s going on. It’s extremely useful during conferences, like SXSW or PodCampNYC. Twitter works on cell phones as well as computers, so people on-the-go can still find out the latest information, ASAP. The benefit here is that instead of texting… or, could you imagine, actually CALLING several people to tell them where you’re about to have lunch, or what floor you’re hanging out on and with whom…
Photo Credit: Jared Klett
… You can make one “tweet,” and everyone that’s following you receives the same information at the same time. (PS – If you don’t know what twitter looks like, you can see it on my macbook pro screen on the right side of the picture.)
So, by now, you’re saying “All I’ve heard is positives!” 😀 Yes. That’s true. 🙂 I think twitter is a very positive thing, or at least it CAN be. It all depends on how you use it. If you clutter your “friends list” with people that don’t do anything, but seem to always have something to say about the NOTHING they do all day, then it’s a waste of your time and energy to read the feed. That’s not my ‘problem’… it’s exactly the opposite! :O
The first day I became aware of twitter, I ‘crawled’ through my friends’ friends lists and added people that I thought might be interesting to follow. I was doing something that day, and I don’t remember what, but I remember doing just ONE thing… 🙂 So I happened to have added someone that appears to be an actress. A “tweet” comes up that she’s heading wherever to meet with whomever. I’m like “ok”….. Then, while I’m still doing the same thing, and time doesn’t really seem to have moved at all, another tweet comes up from her saying that NOW she was heading to a different location to do something else. I’m like “ok”….. So while I was sitting there, still doing the same thing… over the course of the day, she did at least SIX THINGS in six different locations! :O I noticed how interesting it is to ‘eavesdrop’ on the goings-on of someone that’s in a profession you don’t know anything about, but I ALSO noticed that I could have done a lot more with my day than what I did while she was scurrying all over the place being effective.
I chalked it up as a fluke, but the same thing happened the next day and then the next day. To make matters worse, the rest of the people I added are workaholics also! 😀 So now, all day, every day, I get to hear about where they’re going and what they’re doing and who they’re meeting with and what’s happening in Second Life and what country they’re in and which conference is starting and who’s the keynote speaker and who’s broadcasting live on the Internet right now…..
On top of what they’re ACTUALLY DOING, I have to hear about what they think is interesting on the net, who made a new video, who didn’t get paid for the unauthorized use of their photo coughlanbuicough, what’s the latest social site somebody created, how to get invites to be a beta tester, what just crashed their browser, which phone shoots the better video, who updated their blog, what’s the latest HD camera that records MP4…..
And then, while you’re trying to be more productive with your day, AND you’re checking out all these links that people sent out so the tabs on the top of your browser are increasing and getting smaller and smaller… You get to find out who’s going to lunch at such and such a place, who’s going out for drinks later, who’s flying into town for the weekend, where the Wii Sports tournament’s going to be, which bar is giving out free beer RIGHT NOW!, the sun just came out over Central Park, the party’s moving from location X to location Y….. So now, instead of having the excuse that you don’t know if anything’s happening tonight or this weekend and actually getting to USE the time that you had allotted to being more productive, which was ALSO spurred on by twitter… You’re hanging out all the time, to the wee hours of the morning, then spending the better part of the next day updating your flickr set! 😀
Oh, yeah… It also doesn’t help that people live in different time zones. :/ When you’re in the middle of your day, people are talking about “GOOD MORNING FROM HAWAII,” then when you’re done, they’re talking about going out to lunch…
As you can see, the overall effect of this twitter phenomenon is that there are NEVER enough hours in a day anymore. :/ Every second you’re not running with the pack, you’re falling behind. Unfortunately, I don’t subscribe to slackers, so it’s always build, create, innovate, move, report, link, blog, videoblog, discuss, contemplate, debate….. You just have to do as much as you can and eventually call it a day. 😀
There is one downside-downside to twitter, and that’s when it CRASHES, and suddenly, you’re “flying blind”. Twitter has two types of crashes. Type-2 is complete denial of service. 😀 Either the site doesn’t come up at all or it comes up but doesn’t let you type anything and doesn’t give you any updates from anyone else either. You just sit there looking at this screen that says “so-and-so said whatever about 3 hours ago.” Suddenly you start trying to activate the telepathy that you just KNOW you have that will allow you to discernn where people are and what they’re doing, even though none of the “tweets” are coming through at all, hahaha. I suppose it’s the same way people feel when they open the fridge and find out that someone drank the last of the Kool-Aid and didn’t fill it back up! :O You just stare at the container, IMAGINING how good that Kool-Aid would have tasted… IF it were actually IN the container. :/
The Type-1 twitter-crash is way more frequent and way more frustrating! 😀 Twitter lets you type things, but then there are random occurrences right afterwards. What you typed mght disappear into thin air, and twitter acts like you never typed anything at all. It might appear in the list of “tweets”, but then, when you refresh, it’s gone. You can type something and what appears in the list is a duplicate of something you typed hours ago, competely replacing what you actually typed. “Tweets” show up out of order and randomly appear and then disappear upon refreshes. Etc, etc, etc… Anyway… Type-1 twitter-crashes inspire denial as well as disbelief as you realize your carefully crafted post, complete with hyperlinks, has been eaten by twitter and if you didn’t select it and copy it before pressing “Update,” you have to start all over again.
You can imagine the effect these crashes have on the twitter-dependent… suddenly scurrying to use email, instant messaging and telephones to try to find out what’s going on… one.person.at.a.tiiiiiime… 😀 It’s not for the faint of heart. So beware, and be aware! 😀 Watch out for the effects of TMI (too much information). If you recognize it starting to be too much, take a bunch of people off of your “friends list” to slow down the traffic to only relevant information that’s useful to YOU… or Just.Say.No! 😀
Bill Cammack â€¢ New York City â€¢ Freelance Video Editor â€¢ alum.mit.edu/www/billcammack