Thursday, 19 November 2009


I like Twitter. I find it more useful now than I imagined when I signed up for it three years or so ago. For me, its usefulness began when a few close friends of mine, and some of my family, started using it in earnest. Then it became a tool for just working out where people were and what they were up to, as much as it was for stalking celebrities, getting news feeds, discovering links and feeling plugged into the zeitgeist. As nonentities and companies started flooding the service, I stayed resolutely private and felt isolated from it all, because I had my 30 or so followers who I also followed and who largely all followed each other too. More broadcast-y than instant messaging and less arduous than blogging, Twitter's always had an IRC channel vibe for me, which I really like.

(Incidentally, I dumped Facebook three or four months ago. Best move I've ever made)

Recently, though, I started wondering if I've been missing out on the other ways of using it and consuming the nonsense it could potentially push to me, so I renamed by private account and created a public account as well, so I could use that to follow the few public figures and news bots I'm vaguely interested in, and possibly start talking about non-whingey work stuff in a more involved way. The private account remains for all necessary cathartism and gossiping.

So what do I make of the wider Twitter universe, outside of my imposed bubble? Well, first impressions aren't necessarily good. I see a lot of:

  • Self-appointed 'social media expert' types, grinning out from their avatars in a state of perpetual self-satisfaction, waiting for the gravy train to pull in at the next stop
  • Comedians continually whoring out their latest non-hilarious endeavours
  • Spates of irritating hashtag trends - #movieswithunemployedpeople, etc
  • Masses and masses of linkspam, which is what tumblr is bloody for
  • General pushy careerist types being quite mean and rude about other people
And so on. The linkspam thing is the most interesting one, though. I've seen it happen every time a new fad comes along - users just leap on it and funnel everything they want to say, share or play with through it. Maybe Twitter is just too simple, too useful to people to stay within its original constraints, and an inevitable part of mass acceptance are the antipatterns above (and more).

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