Thoughts after a week of Twitter

After slapping Twitter around for the past year, I thought it was about time for me to shut my mouth and actually try it. So after a week, here are my initial impressions.

First off, communications through Twitter are by their nature somewhat superfluous. I’ve really only had one discussion that’s actually meant anything. My impression is that it’s basically the Internet equivalent of the CB Radio. That doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing.

The means of communication is totally different. Look at the stunts Web A Lister Jason Calacanis; as he basically uses Twitter as his personal marketing platform.  He’s offering a Mac Book Air to be raffled off if he is “followed” by 20,000 people. He’s been using Twitter to bombard sites, move articles on Digg, etc. The other day he flooded UStream with people as he offered via Twitter to give a way a GPS unit. I was there, it was hysterical – the chat window was rolling so fast it couldn’t be read. He actually had to tell everyone to stop using it. But the real point is this: if he’d used any other communication means it would not have worked. If he email me, or worse, called, and asked me to go there for a chance to win a GPS I’d have reported him to his ISP for spamming. But for some reason, spamming seems to be okay here.

I’m going to chock it up to the bleeding edge nature of Twitter. I still don’t get it, but at least now I can see uses. However, I’m a results oriented kind of guy. I’m betting I find I don’t have time for this in my life.

This will really work when it’s teamed with groups.  Simply following a couple hundred people increases the signal to noise ratio to a point that it’s almost unusable.  However, it could come in handy when working with team members, or extended communities like a club.  Groups would cut the signal to noise ration down and make it useable.

For now, it seems like a place where A Listers like Calacanis and Steve Gillmor flood the Tweetwaves and make it tough to use.  I’ll have to narrow down my “follows.”

2 Replies to “Thoughts after a week of Twitter”

  1. Mark, I dug into Twitter last year also, thought it through a bit.

    I think the best idea in this space is Jaiku. I just checked their site before writing this post, and it looks like Google has snapped them up. Interesting — I’ll bet you see their ideas incorporated into the Android system. Check out their site.

    Lots there with the activity streams, blog aggregation, etc. Both Twitter and Jaiku are related in that 1) they ‘re mobile phone friendly if not centric, 2) they help you create groups of contacts, and 3)they try to get you to answer the question, “What are you doing/thinking about right now?”

    But the concept from Jaiku that really resonated for me was the following: they were bringing the usefulness of IM’s green=available / red=unavailable to contacts in your mobile phone. Imagine being able to flip on your mobile, go to a contact, and see if right now that person is: on the phone (“Busy” in IM), in a meeting (“Away” in IM), have their phone turned off (“Offline” in IM), or ready to talk.

    Now that’s obvious and useful as hell. Does the iPhone do that yet?

  2. I’ll be signing up and testing Jaiku this weekend. Thanks for the tip.

    The color coded bit seems utterly useful. Again, when applied to groups, it becomes a possible killer app. The contacts I’d track on the weekend might be different than those I’d track during the week. Actually, we should test Jaiku with our little group…

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