Why IS Twitter a phenomenon?

Despite loving what both these ladies have to say on a regular basis, I have to say I’m with Kathy Sierra rather than Tara Hunt on the matter of Twitter. Frankly, I just don’t get it, and would love to have someone I understand and respect explain why they love it to me.

Now, let it be said, I’m a registered Twitter user, but I just don’t touch it. I have several friends and colleagues who are also registered, and their level of interest pretty much matches mine. Which is to say, none.

Rapid dropoff

We all started using Twitter a few months back, and our level of interest peaked after about 36 hours and then bottomed out pretty quickly. We all use IM of several sorts. We all use email. We all sent text messages to each other. But be damned if I can figure out why you’d want a continuous stream of consciousness from your mates appearing on your phone or in IM. Not to mention, my working life is just too busy to be breaking out of my work stream of consciousness into one where I tell everyone else about it.

Is Twitter social networking with value?

I love the whole social networking phenomenon and have what I consider to be a usefully active online life using a lot of those tools (Skype, Upcoming, Last.fm, del.icio.us, etc.) but I just don’t need an every moment as it happens insight into anyone’s life. And nor do I feel the need to broadcast mine to anyone else. And hey, when I do want that insight, like Kathy, I’d prefer to get together for coffee or lunch or poker or an afternoon of playing RPGs.

Where is your attention and need fulfillment

The notion of Twitter as providing always-on partial attention into your life doesn’t cut it with me. If you’ve got a busy life, your attention ought to be focussed on that – on your work and then on your face-to-face social life, not on Twitter. Life lived through Twitter suggests to me an inability to focus on what’s important – work and people in the flesh. Interaction in the Twitter form lacks meaning. There’s no possible way it can fulfill the Third Need.

What do you think? Are you a Twitter user? Are you bought in to the whole phenomenon? Or, like me, are you unconvinced and waiting for the fall?

7 Replies to “Why IS Twitter a phenomenon?”

  1. I’m hooked and I can’t explain why other than it’s kind of weird to see what people are thinking or doing at random points in the day.


    “LOL – 4corners is doing a story on Second Life. Could this be related to the ABC having a virtual prescence there??” – frankarr

    Frank’s my boss, but when I saw that I fliped the channel over to ABC to watch.

    It’s all the noise and no signal, but thats cool right?

    ASK me whether I like in a month or so and I’ll probably have a different answer

    Scott @ Microsoft.

  2. I went and looked at Twitter the first time I heard about it, and I left the site without any idea of what it’s supposed to be. I HATE that. There is no description, other than some nebulous marketing crap on the index page. So I read about it again last week, and decided to google it to find out what the heck Twitter is (they still don’t have a useful intro in their site), and I decided it sounded stupid. However, I said the same thing about blogging when I first heard about it, but I’ve now been blogging for almost 5 years. :

  3. “Twitter is crack for people with ADD.”

    Now thats a T-shirt waiting to happen right there :)

    And also – True Dat!

    It only took me 6 months to get into twitter …. :)

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