Thursday, October 11, 2007

Twittering Away

I haven't exactly become a full convert to the "micro-blogging" Twitter service. But, as I've become more serious about using Facebook--and have become exposed to Twitter through its Facebook app in the process--I'm starting to understand the attraction. Why haven't I been intrigued before now? Well, Adam Engst captures it perfectly in Confessions of a Twitter Convert.

Frankly, I put much of the blame on Twitter itself, asking as it does, "What are you doing?" as a way of prompting people to post 140-character messages. For the most part, as I acerbically noted before, no one cares what you're doing. However, that's not entirely true, and what I missed in my quick and disdainful overview is that a certain number of people do care what you're doing, as long as it's interesting, funny, or relevant in some other way. And here's the other thing - they, not you, get to decide if you're interesting, funny, or relevant.

Adam goes on to say

To help you think about what to twitter about, let me suggest some alternatives to Twitter's "What are you doing?" question:

  • What do you think about some current event?
  • Tell us about something funny you just saw.
  • What neat thing have you learned recently?
  • What have you done lately that was particularly cool?
  • What question would you like to ask your followers?
  • Give us a link to the last great article you read.
  • What was your last blog post/Flickr photo/YouTube video?

Now this makes sense. Assuming that you're not one of the self-proclaimed Silicon Valley cognoscenti with thousands of "friends," I'd actually like to hear interesting suggestions and recommendations from a modest list of people with whom I share common interests. In fact, this starts to look a lot like email distribution lists--but both more regularized and less obtrusive.

In short, Twitter's marketing is really bad. Good thing that (conventional) marketing seems not to matter in a Web 2.0 world.

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