Twitter is a funny little beast about which I’ve had plenty to say. The service has been growing in popularity and lots of new people are showing up to try it out.
I know quite a few people who don’t like it. Eric is frustrated. Meanwhile, on a mailing list, some other friends of mine expressed similar feelings of frustration and even disgust.
Most of the frustrations stem from Twitter’s crappiness as a communication tool for a social network. It’s like a crippled version of IRC. It’s not as good as instant messaging. Creating a network of friends is too time-consuming.
All of these accusations are true. But they don’t matter one little bit to me. I can understand why coming to Twitter now — when you know that lots of your friends are already using it — must be so frustrating: it looks like a communication tool so why is it so hard to make it work like one? But when I started using Twitter, I didn’t know anybody else using it (except for Dunstan). So I use Twitter to broadcast, not to converse.
Since then, with the influx of so many of my friends, I find myself occasionally participating in ad-hoc conversations but they are, by nature, fragile. I’m far more likely to use the “direct message” feature if I’ve got something to say to someone specific on Twitter.
So if Twitter isn’t much good as a collaborative communication tool and all I really use it for is to broadcast my current state of mind, newcomers to the service might rightly ask, “what’s the point?”
It’s not the first time that this question has been asked of online tools. A few years back, that same question was the mantra chanted by most people when they heard about blogging; “what’s the point?”
For anyone coming to blogging now of course, there are plenty of good answers to that question. Most of the answers are to do with “building brand”, “networking”, and other valid but, in my mind, shitty reasons for starting a blog.
Twittering is like blogging: I would do it even if no-one was going to read it.
I don’t blog for other people. I don’t twitter for other people. I do both for myself.
What’s the point? It’s fun.