Thursday, July 23, 2009

Does Twittering Make You a Twit?

I, like a lot of bloggers, have joined Twitter. I am not sure what to call myself now that I prescribe to expressing myself in 140 characters or less (am I a tweet? a twit? a twitterer?), but I know that this small amount of space to express yourself causes you to condense your earth-shattering comments into a sentence (or a couple of words).

While I usually agree that shortening and editing what you have to say helps produce better material, I am not sure that this medium (Twitter) is conducive to that. When you are forced to edit your 10 page paper to make it 8 pages it generally causes you to cut out things that are otherwise useless, and you don't normally realize this until you have to go through such editing. However, Twitter only gives you a sentence to state something. This is usually not long enough for anything, and for the most part people post links to articles or other media. Aside from webpage links, most people state something about what they are doing or how they are feeling. In essence, I do not think it is a good medium to replace blogging. You may be able to quickly type something and post it on twitter in a matter of seconds, but that doesn't mean it will be worth while to read (really... do I need to know if you spilled coffee on yourself or you just bought a doughnut?).

Aside from the usually trivial and useless material that Twitter (sort of) forces people to post, it is useful in one sense: marketing. Yes, if you are a member of Twitter you've probably been "followed" by a few people who are really just spamming 'bots.' But besides these annoying people, it is a good medium to get other webpages (where good content can be posted), such as a blog, news website, videoes, etc. I personally like to use it to pose questions. I find this one of the best uses (besides posting links to informative material) of Twitter because a question promotes people to think about an issue, which you can most likely convey in a sentence. People then usually take a stand on said issue, and will more often than not try to communicate their opinion (usually through a messageboard, comment box, blog, etc.) Not only does it make people think, but it promotes them to react, which is the lifeblood of blogging.

In conclusion, I think Twitter is like owning a gun. Anyone can own a gun, but it takes a skilled person to know how to use it properly.

(for a discussion of lowered attention spans, see my earlier blog post on this)