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Shifting my Twits around

I’ve moved my Twitter feed from the right side to the left side navigation area on this page. The “balance” was starting to bug me (i.e.: too much vertical “stuff” on the right versus the left), and for some reason it just seems to make more sense under “recent comments” then above my photo gallery block.

I have not yet really slowed down my rate of “tweeting” yet: by the way, I prefer calling individual Twitter posts “twits”, but apparently that is bad form- sorry. I started on May 14th, and I’m posting somewhere around six to eight updates per day. if you look at my follow cost I seem to have stabilized at just below 400 milliscobles. I’m not feeling any compulsion to tweet: I just do so when something catches my eye and I think other folks might want to hear about it. Probably my main “vanity” when tweeting is that I respond to a few people like badastronomer (Phil Plait) and wilh (Wil Wheaton) on occasion. In part I do this because I’m hoping they might say something back- but generally I actually *do* have a question, I just probably would never have the courage to ask them to their face.   

I think that is the most intriguing thing for me about Twitter: the fact that you can have a sort of disjointed, quasi-real time conversation with someone whom you would normally never interact. I don’t necessarily mean someone “famous”, but that has its appeal. Twitter has a bit more immediacy than, say, a forum (bulletin board), and there is much more of a “conversation” going on than with a blog. I have only received a couple of responses to my queries to other Twitter users, but those were sufficient to feed my interest. In that way, I’d say it is somewhat like the thrill some people get from playing slot machines: the reward in this case is becoming part of a conversation, and what you are gambling is the exposure you risk by making some of your more immediate (and less well considered) thoughts public.

And it is okay that the conversation is often very one-sided. I’ll use the example of Wil Wheaton for illustration purposes. I learned long ago from Wil Wheaton’s website that he is a much more “real” person than I thought he might be based on his Wesley Crusher character from Star Trek TNG. But via his Tweets I’ve discovered that he plays D&D, enjoys an occasional beer, and roots for his favorite hockey team. These aren’t canned, crafted, by the script messages (although you find some of that on Twitter), and the spontaneity is sometimes quite… refreshing. The conversation feels more like what you might hear in a brief chat at a bar or party if you ran into these people. And I suppose that is the point: the enforced brevity of the message strips away the formality of the longer forms.

I guess what I’m saying is that I’m starting to “get” Twitter. I can certainly understand not wanting anything to do with it, or simply not seeing the point. But like a lot of things, now that I’ve tried it I find the reality is more intriguing than my speculation and critical analysis previously led me to conclude.

4 comments to Shifting my Twits around

  • Jim HIldebrand

    I have decided to experience twitter vicariously through your blog 🙂 There is some appeal in reading your “twits” and following links to the people you are following and to people that they are following but it doesn’t instill any desire in me to share my life with others in that fashion. I am much more comfortable lurking in the background which probably says things about me that I don’t care to examine right now.

    Jim

  • I’ve been rejecting the notion of Twitter pretty vociferously since I first heard about it, so I can’t find any fault in you not using the service. As for not feeling comfortable examining your motivations for staying in the “background”… I have the same question about why my own habit of clicking the “tweet” button, or writing this blog for that matter.

    What is the purpose of something like this blog a twitter feed? Is my ego really that big that I think anyone actually cares about what I have to say? I don’t have an answer for that question about myself other than some vague rationales that sound pretty lame even to me. Yes, I have things to say, and this is a way to send my message that is at least slightly more effective than putting it in a bottle and tossing it in the sea. But beyond that… I’m not sure what really motivates me.

    All I can really say is that posting a tweet or blog entry usually makes me feel good. And if *not* doing either of these things makes you feel good, then that’s as good a reason as mine 😉

  • Blogging is enough for me, and I’m pretty slack at that.

    My lifestyle is such that I can’t carry a Blackberry around, pull it out and make an entry when I’m at work, and certainly not read other twits er tweets 😉

    You take out driving, sleeping, defecating and other natural functions… and really that leaves 2-3 hours in a day during which I might tweet about stuff I did hours before… which sort of limits the whole ‘immediate update’ angle.

    If I had a different lifestyle, I could see using it – it would be great if you were one of these people traveling all over the world, keeping the folks back home updated for example. But my tweets would run something like this:

    “got home from work”
    “finished eating – reading Kelly’s blog”
    “more porn spam in e-mail. Where does it come form and why do they think I like latina goat women?”
    “looking at LOL cats”
    “bedtime already”

    Next day repeat above 😀

  • “latina goat women”: your spam is way more interesting than mine- I just get ads for v!agRa and c1alis… not sure which is worse 🙂

    Lots of folks, probably the majority, use Twitter almost exclusively to follow other people. I have no idea what the actual stats are, but I’d imagine that a majority don’t tweet more than once a day. I expect I’ll tweet less going forward: this week is probably a bit of an artificial high-water mark since I’m technically on “vacation” (the quotes are there because I’m working over 20 hours during my “vacation” week).

    I regularly work 60-70 hours during my normal work weeks, but even then I have pauses while I’m waiting for code to compile, files to transfer, servers to restart, and the like. Composing a tweet takes 30 seconds (grammar and structure are pretty loose: it is intended to be an informal chat), and with my work I always have a computer at hand. So for me, it is pretty easy- in your work, obviously less so.

    But I’d also challenge your “I have nothing to tweet/no time to tweet” statement. You are going on an interesting trip next year. Assuming you periodically get access to Wifi, Twitter could be perfect for sharing that. That neat netbook you have would be perfect for Twitter, and you can share your photos that way as well via TwitPic. Since you are limited to 140 characters, you are “forced” to keep it short and this should please Billie 🙂 You might not submit a single tweet for several months after that until your next vacation, but…

    Having said that, I am fully on board with folks who see neither the need to tweet nor have any interest in following other people’s tweets. Although I see it in a much different light now, I was a cynic/doubter until recently, and my “conversion” didn’t come with any mandate to find new followers 😉

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