Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Twitter – Enabling Internet Drama Since 2006

Twitter is an amazingly effective communication mechanism as it enables one to many communication in nearly real time.  Like a lot of technology it’s fluid and can be used in many different ways so there’s really no right way to use it.  There are more than a few ways to abuse it which is why I’d recommend this article as it provides more than a few ways to avoid looking like a complete jackass on Twitter.

Personally I use twitter for a number of different reasons.  It’s a great way to find new content, keep tabs on the people you know/vaguely know, meet new and interesting people, and find answers to questions both technical and non-technical.  I’ve met a lot of cool people on Twitter and then converted those online relationships into real world conversations. 

Twitter is great resource but you really need a third party tool like Tweetdeck to get everything out of it.  Sure Twitter now has lists to categorize people but Tweetdeck has a lot of other solid features that more than compensate for the programs hefty memory footprint.

My main issue with Twitter is that it is a bit like drinking from a fire hose at times.  At one point I was following well over 850 people and that’s just too much to be useful. While most of those people aren’t active the rest still generated way to much information to be of use.  Since then I’ve started actively grooming my list of followers to make it a little more valuable.  Here’s some of the criteria I used to weed out people I follow:

- Interesting content – is there more than just what they are eating/reading/pooping? 
- Do I actually know then?  If I haven’t met or exchanged messages of some sort with a person then I stopped following them unless they were posting interesting links.
- Celebrities – This dove tails into the first one a bit but there’s really no reason for me to track what Neil Gaimen is up to on a daily basis.  The only big name I follow is Kevin Smith and that’s just for the yucks.
- Signal to Noise – I made the mistake early on of following everyone who followed me.  I know it’s a bit of an asshole move but I unfollowed a lot of people just because I didn’t find them interesting or relative to my interests. 
- Website – If the feed was just links from their website I stopped following them and added them to my feed reader.  I prefer to manage an RSS feed than a twitter feed.
- Dead Accounts – If someone hadn’t twittered in more than a month I unfollowed them as that’s just clutter in my account. 
- Unnecessary drama – Twitter seems to feed all kinds of stupid 140 character arguments and I’ve made a point of ignoring/unfollowing the people who start and or propagate these discussions. 

I’m sure this will come off as another self-absorbed blog post about twitter but like I said at the top, Twitter is what you make it and this is the road I’ve chosen right now.

1 comment:

Ben said...

There are two things I find about following celebrities that can make it worthwhile:

1. celebrities love charities. I've learned a lot abpout some very worthy causes by following aston kutcher, edward norton, and tony hawk.

2. giveaways. I've gotten quite a few free things and had more opportunities had I pursued them for additional things.

3. knowledge. Many of the "celebrities" i follow are professional athletes in the sports I participate in. Ive learned a good bit from these folks.