I just read a refreshing article by Mark Hall of Epigonic where he calls Twitter’s worth into question. He says he knows what he’s saying is “utter heresy in the current moment” but aks that we hear him out.
I admire Twitter as web craft. It is very, very nicely made. But in general, how much value does a series of 140-character messages really provide? Go look at the feeds for any of the top 100 or 200 Twitterers. How much value is really there? Look hard at your feed for a day — how essential was it to get those Tweets in real-time, really?
At the very, very best, I think you have to conclude the jury is out. At the very worst, it’s a big, stinking, very perishable pile of inanity — mostly crap, with a very short shelf-life.
So why the hype? Traffic. People — bloggers especially, those in Silicon Valley or the tech industry even more particularly — have realized that Twittering can send traffic. A lot of people are joining because they believe in the dream — that they can gain a lot of followers, and turn those followers into dependable “viewers” or “buyers” or “believers” or whatever. And instead of real estate agents, we have “social media consultants,” SEO folks, web designers, entrepreneurs, politicians, and celebrities pitching themselves, or their links. In short, it’s a few million people furiously on the make.
I’m glad Hall said he likes how Twitter works, because there is something elegant about its simplicity. It’s like a sauce that’s been reduced by a skilled chef, delightful in its density when consumed in small servings.
But what about the damning part of Hall’s critique? That there’s no “there” there? I’ve been using the micro blogging service steadily for about two years now and I admit that my interest in it is waning. There are times when it’s valuable as a note-sharing medium, like when attending a conference, but I don’t need to share notes, or read the shared notes of others like I need to share my writing, my music and my photos. I like Twitter but 140 character bursts of randomness simply don’t belong in that group.
[My inner editor has the keyboard…] Hold on, hold on…that’s not where Twitter’s value lies. It’s about the conversations you can have.
Here too we need some levity. “Conversations” via IM are shallow by definition. Whatever happened to the art of conversation? It still exists but not inside a text message, Tweet or IM.