Married on Twitter

Count me among those who don’t “get” the Twitter phenomenon, which seems like it’s bursting at the seams lately. The need/desire to have your cell phone buzzing all day with transient random noise-bursts from everyone you know: “Eating a pretzel.” “Fiddling with printer.” “Feeding the cat.” Suddenly we’re all Japanese school girls? Being on Twitter (sending or receiving, not to mention both) seems like one of the worst things I can imagine doing to my day. I don’t even turn on IM most of the time, can’t deal with the distraction. But I guess meaningful things do happen on the network. From today’s Twitter newsletter:

There was a 9 minute delay between Alex twittering, “Being engaged. Timoni said yes!” and Timoni updating with, “Wearing my ‘I’m engaged!’ pin.”

And that, folks, was Twitter’s jump the shark moment. Whaddya bet.

Thanks Milan

Music: Stereolab :: Our Trinitone Blast

4 Replies to “Married on Twitter”

  1. Twitter seems like it would be a really neat idea for non-profits, particularly non-profits that engage in lobbying. By association, Congressional representatives, too.

    Imagine public interest lobbyists sending out alerts, such as, going to Hill to meet Kennedy, or meeting with caucus to argue in favor of Iraq withdrawal… etc.

    Try and get your lobbyists to even THINK about doing such a thing. Not going to happen, and what would be the actual utility? Theoretically, it could engage your membership, and be used as a tool to help encourage them to donate, but it could backfire, too…

    In the meantime, Twitter will be the playground of the frivolous…

  2. I started writing something in email last week saying something like this to a mutual friend of our who asked who was using it, then didn’t bother finishing it.

    I don’t really feel that much need to broadcast my life. When I do, I tend to only want to briefly and not as a constant stream. My ADHD rattled brain looked at the stream there and thought that it was way too much trivial distraction.

    I got a similar feeling when looking at the Helium site which “pays” people to write articles that are peer rated. The lowest common demoninator to me seems to reflect a lot of trivial articles that could be written by a gradeschoolers and porbably are. But, hey, at least they offer cash prizes. But I’m not sure I get it, or that the rating system rates value of content.

    My first thought was that Twitter seems to complete the cycle of a swing back towards interuptiveness. Years ago a CEO where I worked sent a provocative email about how email had great power but he was concerned it’s use was being trivialized and it’s utility and best values overlooked.

    His point was that by being non interuptive, email offers some great value in a workplace so people don’t need to pick up a phone or knock on a door to ask a question that doesn’t reply an immediate reply. As such, it could be a boon to productivity, but that this was diminished if it was also flooded with trivial noise. I thought these were great points.

    A few years later IM picked up speed and added back the interuptiveness, but at least leaving an option to be “away” and still receive messages. So it had a bit of the best of both worlds. Potential immediacy and interuption, or the utility of a voicemail like system for brief text more immediate and conversational than email, but still potentially a time shifting in a way that let you get your work done with focus.

    Personally, I rarely use IM, and I don’t use call waiting. I’m not looking for more ways to be interupted. Cell phones have already added far too more much of that. And email had grown into something to manage that requires regular tending.

    One of the things that has me wary about social networking services is that I don’t really want a half dozen more ways to communicate with people, or to have to check regularly. I don’t see much point in using myspace or other social networking sites to add another way to communicate when I have plenty of options.

    But, I must admit my perspective changed a bit after reading an article on transparency in the latest WIRED. I’m not fond of the latest issue, with a formatting change that makes it harder for me to read, but generally I’ve found it worth $12 a year because I usually get at least one really thought provoking article per issue.

    Transparency, they argue, is in now. They suggest that a CEO baring his soul about company problems and admitting he might night make payroll was a great move that helped save the company. And then compared it to the ridicule another suffered when he blogged that layoffs were definitely not pending then laid off 40% 2 weeks later.

    Apparently some execs are twittering. And this is seen as part of a larger shift in dynamic away from the depersonaliztion of companies and channeling transparency back into trust. Microsoft is shooting video interviews with developers and running them on a public site. Other examples, such as company blogs, were cited.

    So, I have to admit I can see a tool that could be useful for some contexts but I also see a sytem flooded with useless triva.

    Then I listened to a bizarre album by Terry Strange, Raw Power, and thought, the perfect way to review this album would be via twitter, or a twitter parody. Broadcasting the thought process of digesting this incredible sonic landscape and the stream of consciouness reactions it provokes seems like the perfect way to review it.

    I thought I’d reconsider and I looked again, and opened an account. Part of that is becasue I have a particular user name that I’d like to at least prevent others from using. I twittered twice, but I’m not sure if I’ll bother again. I think I’ll try at least one album review there, just to test the concept.

    If you have an audience to broadcast to, hey, I’m happy for you. But I see it as a risky tool that could easily encourage stalking, and add to the already increasing profiling of us in databases that are being built based on so many of our actions. There’s enough databases about me already, so I’m not sure I need to create another one.

    I looked at the stream twice, and saw one that reinforced my fear of it being used for stalking. Someone was asking if there’s a way to remove people you don’t want getting updates. It hadn’t even occurred to me that people are having these sent to phones, which is even crepier when you think about high school kids following what the folks they like are doing.

    The web seems to want to be finding more ways to encourage an increasingly voyeuristic society, and there’s seems to be a generation or more that’s enjoying being exhibitionists.

  3. I’ll confess to liking twitter. The trick is in how you use it. You don’t have to be interrupted or get updates via SMS. Most of the time I check the website or run Twitterific as a widget in the background. I like hearing what people are doing (and thinking). I feel more connected to my online social network.

    Many of the criticisms aimed at twitter were lodged against blogging too: it’s trivial, who cares what you had for breakfast, etc. Of course that’s all true, but (1) I am interested in my friends’ observations about ordinary life and (2) anthropologists of the future are going to have a treasure trove.

  4. Heh – Personally I think anthropologists of the future are going to wonder how we survived the noise.

    I do think there’s something fun in all this, but I’m on a quest to decrease the static, not turn it up.

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