Today In Twitterverse: “A Few Million People Furiously On the Make”

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.

About David Burn

Co-founder and editor of AdPulp. I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. I worked for seven agencies in five states before launching my own practice in 2009. Today, I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.


  1. David, I both agree and disagree with you.
    If you take the time to build a loyal community on Twitter, if def. can be an incredible tool to drive traffic. And yes I agree, most of the ideas shared there are fleeting thoughts, but they still have meaning. During the 2am brilliant (or stupid) idea- Twitter is there to embrace (or reject) it.
    But ultimately when it comes down to it, Twitter is a conduit to real life relationships. With Twitter, anyone can “follow” someone and get to “know” them before actually meeting them in real life. There is an automatic *we follow so we are friends* mentality that is not always such a bad/false thing.
    Twitter is going mainstream and – for those that have been on Twitter for almost or over 2 years now – this is frustrating. But I do think Twitter is still relevant, and will continue to develop relationships there that add value to my life and hopefully the world.
    J 🙂

  2. Hi Julia,
    I’ve never sought to “drive traffic” by using Twitter, which is why Shawn, Danny and I maintain personal Twitter accounts. There’s a reason for this. I see the service as essentially personal. You don’t IM or have conversations with a company, you IM and have conversations with people.
    As for the concept of friends on Twitter, it’s too promiscuous a service for that. Facebook handles that function much better.