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Microblogging…. I Just Don’t Get It!

Submitted by on July 2, 2008 – 9:03 pm 154 views 9 Comments

OK, I’m going to take a short break from my posts on productivity, creativity, mind mapping, and using technology to enhance learning. You can call this an uninformed rant if you like, but I seriously can’t comprehend all the buzz that is surrounding the “MicroBlogging phenomenon”. No doubt, many of you are aware of Twitter. For those of you that have been hiding under a rock, or are not plugged into the blogosphere as of late, Twitter essentially takes blogging to another extreme and lets users broadcast at any given moment exactly what they’re doing. Here’s a concise description from Twitter’s 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?”

I’ve always been a little bit hesitant to adopt the latest technology craze du jour, but I’ve been circulating these thoughts internally for some time. And, it wasn’t until this week that I read a few posts that had me really question whether this is uber-hype or a case of me just refusing to get with the times. Case in point…. 2 recent articles illustrate the microblogging buzz:

  1. How Twitter Could Be Worth A Billion in a Year
  2. Indent.ca – Another microblogging service that just recently hit the del.icio.us popular list

My premise for my argument/rant is this: Aren’t we already to the point where we’ve reached information overload and communication saturation? Of all people, I’m probably one of the biggest technology evangelists, technophiles, and all around geeks out there. However, in the last year I finally reached a point of realization that there is just too much noise in the wild, wonderful, world wide web.

I’m what you would call a “connected person”. I love the fact that you can use technology to enable communication, find people with common interests, and make long-lasting connections. I’ve met some of my greatest friends and acquaintances through the PC. My passion for using technology to enable communication drove me to develop one of the first web-based chat applications on the web (Lucid Chat).

I’ve been connected to the net since ’94. In fact, I’ve been involved since the BBS days back in ’88. Yes, I’m a member of most of the major social networking sites out there, love using Linked.in, use del.icio.us at least a dozen times a day, and am constantly hunting for the latest and greatest blog posts. I also have accumulated at least 250+ RSS subscriptions to some pretty cool blogs. At this point… the information overload bubble sort of reached critical mass.

I finally realized that I just can’t *possibly* keep up with the amount of information out there. I’ve started to take a more pragmatic and realistic approach to simplifying my focus and attention on my most critical sources of information. Do I still subscribe to most of my RSS feeds? Yes, however I’ve significantly decreased how frequently I read the feeds, and only tackle at least a half dozen of my favorite feeds at a time.

I have email. I have social bookmarks. I have a multitude of social network sites that keep me connected with others. I have instant messaging. I have RSS feeds. Do I really need a microblogging service that keeps me up to date on what friends (and strangers) are doing at any given second? I’m not sure on this one.

I actually really want to like Twitter. I want to embrace it and jump on the latest technology bandwagon. However, I just can’t get away from the feeling that we’ve reached the apex of the golden age of communication, and are now on the downward trend of turning valuable information into useless “datababble” (yes, I just made that term up). Enter the age of Information Entropy.

Please help me understand what I’m missing here.

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9 Comments »

  • Chuck Frey says:

    Eric, no you’re not missing anything. I’ve investigated it and I must say, I don’t get it, either. It’s a pure ego play, letting your “followers” know what you’re doing at any given moment. IMO, you’re not missing anything!

  • Jamie Pitts says:

    That pic really describes how I feel about twitter. I refuse to make room in my brain for pure fluff written by some internet prima donna.

    The only twitter stream that has been worth keeping up with is that of the Mars Phoenix team: http://twitter.com/MarsPhoenix. Having someone enter status updates about an emerging situ is a good use of this communications medium.

  • Eric Blue says:

    Chuck,

    I think your comment is spot on… I’m sure narcissism plays a huge part.

    Jamie,

    Thanks, I’ll have to check that out.

    Radek,

    Thanks for the link… very interesting.

  • Depends on who you follow, what you tweet and your feeds.

    Many say “I don’t get it” with LinkedIn and the lot of them. I think those who find a few places to add value get return from all.

    For me, twitter is starting to join the ranks of LinkedIn and Facebook as these are three that have generated a financial return on my time (avg time = :15/day), not to mention new contacts with endless possibilities – I am here because of twitter and look forward to learning about your blog!

  • Eric Blue says:

    Hi David,

    Thanks for your comment on my blog! I think you have a good point. Ultimately it’s about adding value on these services, and knowing how to filter through the cruft of irrelevant information. Although I’m skeptical, I still do plan to give Twitter a short whirl and see what the buzz is all about. I can commit to at least trying for a week ;)

  • Brian says:

    Hey Eric,

    Great post. I’ve been on twitter for awhile now and I do see some value to it although I agree that 90% is static. Here are some specific uses once you cut through that static:

    1. Being a technophile, I follow industry leaders and pundits. Their tweets keep me in the loop on new products and services that are just hitting the web. This also applies to news organizations like CNN, where breaking stories are broadcast as they happen. Or to broadcast medium that advertise their shows. I always know when Leo Laporte has a show on twitlive.tv, because he tweets right before he broadcasts.

    2. Friends/family. I get to keep up on the lives and goings-on of the people I care about. They won’t always tell me about something they are doing specifically, but they twitter it and I get to know about it.

    3. Product service support. This is something that I think may be extremely valuable for companies that troll the “twittersphere” for keywords. For example, the P.R. manager at our work keeps an eye on tweets with specific brand-related keywords. So if someone is touting our product or dissing it, he can respond and help them or pass along something that we may be doing right. This is all real-time and I tell you, the people that get engaged in this dialog are always surprised and happy that our company is paying attention and available to help.

    These are just a few ways that twitter has improved my experience online.

  • Eric Blue says:

    Brian,

    Thanks for you comment. Great points! Again, I think the overarching theme here is being able to filter through the cruft to get to useful information. I do like the thought of being able to connect with friends/family. I’m still skeptical, but can see some of the uses.

    I will admit that there is something strangely mesmerizing with that 140 char text limit. On one hand it seems very limiting, but on the other you just seem *compelled* to write something! I’m sure Twitter brings out some interesting personality traits, quirks, and linguistic slips that would otherwise be masked by a well thought out email or blog post.

    And, to your point, there definitely are opportunities to stay connected at a business level and keep plugged in to new technology, news, and developments.

  • Twitter Comment


    I knocked Twitter before I tried ( [link to post] ) & BOY was I wrong. But I really don’t get foursquare.. don’t think i will

    Posted using Chat Catcher

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