Friday, February 27, 2009


OK, so I've been using Twitter for a couple months now, and I have to say I'm underwhelmed. It's definitely got some usefulness, but some of that usefulness gets diluted by the way some people use it.

First the good stuff about Twitter. I can keep up with geographically-dispersed friends and family members on Twitter in way I couldn't before. It's easy to use, either through a web browser or any number of Twitter clients offered for hand held devices like my BlackBerry. OK, that's about it for the good stuff.

What's annoying about Twitter is the way some use it as a one-way communications medium. "Follow me on Twitter!" you'll see plastered on various blogs and web sites. OK, fine...I'll follow you on Twitter. But for what? So I can see the same stuff you're posting on your blog? And it's not as if any of the "big time" bloggers follow you on Twitter.

Take for example Allahpundit at Hot Air, one of my favorite bloggers. He's got 898 followers as of this writing, and he follows 12. I followed Allahpundit for a while and saw him post a reply to Andy Levy of Red Eye (3,238 followers, following 101). I think Levy's a pretty damned funny guy, so I followed him, too. For the next few days, I watched the two carry on various conversations with each other on Twitter, something they could easily have done with regular SMS text messaging.

At one point, Allahpundit tweeted a question to nobody in particular and I started to reply, but then I realized, why bother? He doesn't follow me so it's not like he'd see anything in his user timeline. He'd have to actively search for responses to @allahpundit to see it. At that point I realized this is stupid. I stopped following pretty much everyone who's not also following me because it just makes no sense. Except for The Onion (48,176 followers, following 44,947). And they're at least following me.

Update: Forgot to mention the other misuse (in my humble opinion) of Twitter, which is the habit some have of putting a link in every single Tweet. I use Twitter on my BlackBerry almost exclusively. Sure, I have a web browser on it, but that's not really what I want to use Twitter for.

Update: Andy Levy notes in the comments...holy crap, did Andy Levy just leave a comment here? Why yes he did! I'm both honored and humbled. Anyway, Levy corrects me about how @replies work in Twitter. Apparently if someone replies to your tweet, you'll see it even if you're not following him. So I think I'll go back to following a few people I'd un-followed earlier. Did the word "un-follow" exist pre-Twitter? I doubt it.


Levy said...

Hey, just fyi, you're wrong about the way twitter works. if you "@reply" to someone, that person sees it, regardless of whether he or she is following you.

In fact, chances are that Allahpundit and I were tweeting with other people too, but you didn't see those because you're not following THOSE people.

The reason I only follow 100+ people is exactly because I want to be able to read every tweet that people send to me. If I followed 5000+ people I wouldn't be able to read all of THEIR tweets, let alone the ones addressed to me from the people I'm not following.

I read every tweet that's sent to me, whether it's from someone I follow or not. And I respond to a high percentage of tweets that are sent to me from people I don't follow.

Eric said...

Ah...I stand corrected then. I didn't realize that @replies worked that way. That's good to know.