|Twitter's "Fail Whale" (displayed during outages)|
has now become almost as ubiquitous
as the Microsoft "Paperclip" once was.
I'm not even entirely sure why I'm writing this when I'm fairly sure that the only people who ever read this blog are on twitter already!
However, it's becoming abundantly clear to me that to "get" it you have to be in it.
It's like the Matrix; you have to see it for yourself. So I guess I felt I would try to put into words what twitter is for me.
Twitter is a cross between Facebook and an instant messaging platform; you are limited to 140 characters, so updates tend to be concise. I think what people don't get is the social bit of the social network aspect of twitter. It is honestly one of the most supportive environments I have ever experienced, it is as involving as you let it become and is much more than simple status updates.
Because everything on twitter is public (other than direct messages and messages from protected accounts) it’s a very open environment, because of the way it works you can see conversations between the people you “follow” take place in front of you. In this way you can jump in when appropriate (and sometimes not so appropriate).
It very much has the feeling of being in a pub or a coffee shop with conversations taking place all around you; you can pick up and drop conversations more easily than in real life.
In my opinion, the absolute key to a successful relationship with twitter is numbers. If you follow less than about 60 people (and by people I do not mean celebrities) you just don’t get the interactions that make it work.
In order to know who to follow I would suggest simply ask someone who you already follow, if you’re completely new to twitter and have no ideas then maybe do a search on subjects that interest you, as your circle of followers and followees opens up you will probably need a client like Tweetdeck or Seismic to enable you to be able to truly experience it.
Twitter is like all the best and worst parts of social interactions, except there’s less rules to stop you having to endure the bad bits!
At this point I really wouldn’t be without it, I get most of my news from it (albeit I wait until someone like Reuters or the Beeb posts about it before believing it at face value) you learn what you can trust, same as with any other form of media.
I tend to be better informed about current events than I used to be, however, there is the slight issue of being too connected, a twitter buddy once wrote a blog post about the difficulty in “switching off” (see @Puffles2010) and I understand the issue only too well; however, I feel that in general the benefits massively outweigh the bad bits.
What I do find is that other people just don’t understand why I am so taken with what seems to them to be a social network akin to Facebook or something, which seems to be filled with subversive political monsters or narcissistic celebrities (how the “mainstream media” tend to portray it) possibly dependant on the day of the week and the wind direction as far as I can tell.
I think one of the most important points about twitter is that it is, like life, what you make it, however, I really love the interconnectedness of this interface.
And yes, if I’m honest, it does feel a bit like being part of Borg v 0.00000.00027 but you know what? Bring it on! What could possibly go wrong? *winky face*
Am I completely insane to feel like I am part of a huge network people connected by ideas and art and humour and politics and TV or not? What do you think?