Thursday, July 25, 2013

I still don't get twitter...

I know I said I wouldn't use it.  I tried. But in the end I am using twitter - in a very specific way.

A few people follow my twitter account for announcements about local fire events.  The sort of thing you might decide to leave work for, if - for example - you were told there was big fire near your home.

I've sent just a few tweets so far, and won't send tweets about anything not related to the topic I have promised.

I started doing this because there are obvious cases where email gets delayed, and in the case of a fire or other major event that could be a problem.  In theory tweets get out quickly, and can get to people who aren't in front of a real computer.

So far so good.

And since I have the twitter account and there might be other sources of data out there, I went looking.  A couple of people suggested sources I should follow there too, and in some cases I have done so.

And I hate it.

One or two twitter users I follow have a specific topic in mind - like my own use pattern - and those are fine.  I can see what they have to say quickly, and evaluate them for interest easily.

Most people, though, don't do that.  Their twitter feeds are a mess of stuff, mostly uninteresting, with only a tiny bit tossed in at random that might be useful to me as I try to track any major events going on in my area.  Sorting the wheat from the chaff is very difficult, and drives me nuts.

Adding injury to insult is the twitter website itself.  First, I am now getting promoted tweets at or near the top of the stream, which are totally uninteresting to me.  Junk that just makes the site less useful.

Beyond that, though, is the odd fact that the stream is not ordered in time.  It can jump around - at random - for no reason I can determine.  Why they do that I have no idea.  But it means that any time I look at the stream I have to try to figure out if what I am reading is in order or not, since that could affect whether or not any given tweet is still relevant to me.

What nitwit decided that was a good idea?

I've used my RSS reader to tap into some of those I follow.  What is displayed in there is (so far, anyway) in time order, and no promoted tweets appear, but now I have to check the RSS reader site and hope it has pulled the feeds recently enough to give me an up to date picture of what any given person I follow is tweeting.  And, of course, the RSS reader doesn't help at all of the source is tweeting junk interspersed with useful data.

I understand why twitter is a good thing at some level, but I do not yet grok the usage model that lets it be a primary news source for anyone.  In fact, for the most part, I don't think I care about more than a percent or two of what gets into my very tiny stream.

I must be missing something, but I have yet to figure it out.