Sunday, October 25, 2009

I Don't Twitter Part II

In a post from some time back (July 31, 2000, in fact) I said that I don't use (or much appreciate) Twitter. I got quite a few comments at the time, and a long response from Paul some time later.

Paul's points are well taken - you can read them here yourself - but I continue to be frustrated by both Facebook and Twitter. Of course discussing that frustration in a blog post probably isn't all that original. Or intelligent.

I'm still considering shutting down my Facebook account.  The only reason I don't is that it does - as Paul suggests - keep me somewhat up to date on the lives of friends that I otherwise would lose touch with completely.  That may be more important For Paul than me, being as he's separated from so many by an ocean.  To me it's only something nice to have, not something critical to my life.

Some time back - after the July post that started this - I began using FB's new "lite" user interface: lite.facebook.com.  It's not perfect but it has greatly reduced the distractions that come with the standard FB site.  That's helped somewhat, and is probably the reason I haven't left Facebook for good.  Time will tell if it's enough, or if they change it to enable the silly applications and things that only annoyed me.  My take on FB is still evolving.

Twitter, however, has proven less useful to me every time I am exposed to it.  Paul's comments on it are quite good, but let me give you a counter example.  Today's Loma Fire near my home lead to some digging on the web for information.  Some places had links to Twitter, and eventually I chased them, mostly to see if there was anything useful out there.  Eventually I found the keyword #loma that seems to be related to tweets about the fire.

And what do you suppose I found there?  Not much, actually.  Chase the link to see it yourself, assuming it's still valid.  It was mostly (lots of) repeats of information it was simpler to find in other places, like the official CalFire site and local news organizations.  There were a few comments and a couple links to pictures too, but nothing all that useful or interesting.  That said, about the sixth time I read "Problem: water and lunches are 3 hours late" though, I was starting to wonder.

In any case it turned out to be essentially useless, and this was a real time case where Twitter is supposed to stand out.  It didn't.

Going back to my premise, if someone wants to pontificate about what they are eating or where they are traveling, etc. in a medium like Twitter or FB, I'm pretty sure I'd rather not know.  If that same someone wants to make a cohesive narrative out of that part of their life, that's great.  Such things are called many things: articles, blog posts, short stories, even books.  A series of tweets, however, is not remotely cohesive, at least not to me, and without the context from one to another I feel as if I am watching a feature length film by viewing only every 10,000th frame.

So, for now, my opinion on Twitter stands: I don't get it, and I don't find it useful - or interesting - when I am exposed to it.  Facebook may get a pass, or not.  I reserve judgement for now, but only thanks to the new lite UI.

May your experiences be better.

2 comments:

  1. (Ha, I'm only one *month* behind on this one.)

    I find event specific tracking on Twitter to be less helpful in the aggregate. It seems to be always better to start with a good source or follow someone who is good at filtering. But then, this would be the same strategy as for reading blogs, RSS feeds, and news in general.

    As for Facebook, I wish there was a better way to "silo-ize" the data coming in. A previous incarnation of FB UI exposed the postings in several RSS feeds, separating out status updates from full posts, picture uploads and link suggestions. That was actually rather helpful. I can still get something like it for status updates if I used Tweetdeck, but then I don't see comments, which are actually more useful on FB then @ replies on Twitter.

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  2. I never saw the version of the Facebook UI you mention, sir, or if I did I didn't know it was capable of what you describe. It sounds useful to me.

    Twitter is definitely still off my list. I just can't see the usefulness of it. But then again I'm not usually and IM user either.

    I think of it like the various cable TV shopping channels. Why would I want to sit around and wait for what I want or need to come by when I could instead do something else and go get what I want or need when I need it? Twitter and IM leave me feeling the same way.

    When I was working we used an IRC channel to coordinate things when stuff was being worked by multiple people. That made sense. But once the issue was handled I found IRC to be mostly a waste of time.

    *sigh*

    I'll go hide under my rock again.

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