Monday, April 27, 2009

Twitter, Garbage

According to its website,

"Twitter is a service for friends, family, and co–workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: What are you doing?"

It then explains,

"Why? Because even basic updates are meaningful to family members, friends, or colleagues—especially when they’re timely.

* Eating soup? Research shows that moms want to know.
* Running late to a meeting? Your co–workers might find that useful.
* Partying? Your friends may want to join you."

Now excuse the following rant, but ...

Evidently, I am not entirely against new media. I think the idea of broadcasting one's ideas on the web (blogging) can have very meaningful uses. Amongst its many advantages, you can publish thoughts in a modern, accessible way, incorporating all that the web has to offer: links, videos, etc. making for what can often be better-expressed ideas. For example, rather than just reviewing a movie, one can actually link a reader to the clip of discussion. It allows those who might not have the expertise or time for the creation of a real website to contribute in their own way to the web. It also gives people a voice that might not otherwise be heard. Finally, it allows others to quickly and easily respond to what has been said, creating some fragment of a forum, which can be helpful for the purpose of gauging where your thoughts might stand with others.

In essence, a blog provides an opportunity to actually communicate and discuss ideas in a relatively public, profitable and thorough manner.

Blogging has its own downsides. For instance, there are thousands of blogs, and like many things in such vast quantity, their quality varies substantially. There are also issues of copyright and plagiarism that are hard to control throughout the web. (This last, actually, might just be part of a larger problem, relating to the lack of legal foundations with regards to the web...but I won't get into that now.) Yet, in its short lifespan, blogging has really established itself as a reasonable medium for communicating ideas.

Twitter, on the other hand, I see little value in. First, it serves a niche that no one really knew existed. Secondly, it creates what could be described as life spam. Finally, it is the self-sacrificing of one of the last vestiges of privacy (those few moments you have away from CCTV etc.). To no one's surprise, I don't actually really care if someone starts work at 4, just saw the cutest puppy, is craving chocolate cake, has to go to the washroom or is now really relieved that they went go to the washroom. I think its incredibly selfish and self-centred to think anyone would care. In a society where we are bombarded by 24 hour headlines and snippets, do we really need to create our own? There seems to be more information with less substance than ever before. There are far more important things to concern one's self with than something crammed into 140 characters or less. Technology has facilitated the publishing and dissemination of information; Twitter is a devolution in the advancements in communication this has afforded us.

Rather than force us to enter the trivialities of one's private life, it would be far more fruitful to accumulate those 140 characters and actually write something thoughtful, without abbreviations that someone in their right mind might actually find useful, insightful or remotely interesting. (see other forms of new media to see how - blogging for instance) With the last few ounces of privacy that still remain under our own control, there is no need to give it away using Twitter. I have found that Twitter seems to only emphasized the mundane nature of most people's lives. Next there will be some way for companies to analyze "tweets" so that they might target advertising to individuals. Picture this: you tweet that you are fed up with your phone company. Immediately you receive a phone call from someone trying to sell you a new phone service.

Remember when you had real conversations with people? When you could ask them "What did you do today?" without knowing already every little banal detail? These are questions that Twitter users must answer. The thrill of mystery cannot be understated, nor can the vapidity of the every day lives of the vast majority of people. Keep it to yourself, if you have something real to say, write it articulately and eloquently without character limits. Then, choose your audience purposefully and you will reap the reward of people actually caring about what you have to say.

For now, I will stick to blogging: A medium through which real ideas can be properly communicated.

(Ironically, the guy who helped invent blogspot is the same guy who invented Twitter...I think there is something to be said about lightning not striking twice in the same spot.)