Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Moderately cool stuff on Twitter (and the word that's kept me from using Twitter)

Yesterday I blogged about "what I do and don't understand about Twitter." As I said, I'm still not totally sure what the point is, but there's enough worthwhile content on it that I'll stay on it. If it's your preferred mode of communication, feel free to follow me.

Hm, maybe that's how it would be useful to me: I could use it to stay in touch with you, the blog reader ... if you're out there!

One of the things that's most kept me from using Twitter is the word "tweets." Anytime the topic of Twitter comes up, the word "tweets" isn't far behind. It sounds like a word you might come up with if you wanted to make a website appealing to 10-year-olds. But I just feel embarrassed when I hear adults talking about their "tweets." So while I might keep using Twitter, I'm not going to talk about "tweets."

Here are a few posts I've seen on Twitter that went some way toward convincing me it's only a partial waste of time and not a complete waste of time:

michaelianblack Admitting that it's not the best thing in the world, can't we all agree that eating people isn't THAT bad?

Lileks With an electric razor, you can shave at your desk. You don't have to look at yourself in mirror. Great for guilty consciences!

rainnwilson @UtahRichie I read all replies except from guys from Utah. Sorry.

So it seems to work particularly well for guys with a wry wit.

I like seeing New York Times obituaries, Buddhist sayings, sales on Amazon mp3s, what's going on in NYC, cryptically short recipes, and all-caps micro-wisdom.

I follow a few Twittering bloggers: Penelope Trunk, Will Wilkinson, Matthew Yglesias.

I also don't mind getting random promotional info, and even the occasional genuine thought, from such luminaries as Peter Singer, Al Gore, Nicholas Kristof, Regina Spektor, Imogen Heap, and Richard Florida.

So that's all kinda cool, I guess. But it's still not as useful as Facebook.

One other thing. Sooner or later everyone's going to get tired of the 140-character limit. I already am. I understand the benefit of forcing everyone to be concise. And it's kind of fun watching the number of remaining characters count down, which makes it "breezy and game-like." But they could keep all of that and make the limit, say, 300 characters. Cap it at a length that will let people write a couple decent sentences. Right now, it's hard to write even one sentence. If someone created a new website that was just like Twitter but a little less draconian, I'd switch.

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