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Have You Heard About Twitter?

April 25th, 2009

Twitter, as you may have heard, is all the rage these days. And by “all the rage,” I mean that there are both a lot of people using it and a lot of people raging about the people using it. Oh, and also some people raging about the people raging about those other people. It’s the Internet, folks. It’s what we do.

An architecture blogger named Geoff Manaugh recently wrote a spirited defense of Twitter in which he tore through an entire platoon of snooty, literati straw men whose real objection is to the unwashed masses who use the application. He declares Twitter merely to be a “note-taking technology,” and likens it to a ball-point pen.

It’s a specious argument. Twitter isn’t a note-taking technology, it’s a note-sharing technology. You could use it to jot down notes for your personal use, but there are better ways to do that. By design, Twitter sends those notes to anyone who cares enough to follow them. It’s like a ball-point pen in which the ink clogs every couple of sentences, and the pen itself takes everything you wrote, puts it in an envelope and mails it to everyone you know, plus a lot of people you don’t.

Yes, I’m sure that some folks have come up with clever uses for Twitter. There’s always someone who can look at a dish of mold and see penicillin. In a recent meeting at work, we discussed the possibility of using it as an adjunct to our weather alert service. That’s neat.

You could even write a novel using Twitter, but it would be an act of sheer cussedness to do so. Sure,


I could express the exact same thoughts (complete with my obligatory parenthetical asides) by writing this blog 140 characters at a time, but


I think it would be kinda silly.

Manaugh argues “Twitter needs to be differentiated from what people write on Twitter. The fact that so many people now use Twitter as a public email system, or as a way to instant-message their friends in front of other people, is immaterial.” I disagree. I think that the reason so many people do that is because that’s what it’s designed to do.

Honestly, I think that a lot of the recent backlash against Twitter is due to the sudden embracing of it by so-called “old media.” One reason that I’ve cautioned my coworkers about jumping on the Tweet Wagon is because of the mockery other media outlets have endured by attempting to prove that they are hip, fresh or whatever the kids are saying these days.

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart M – Th 11p / 10c
Twitter Frenzy

At the end of the day, I’m not against Twitter. I’m against me using Twitter. And it’s not as if not using Twitter is a choice that I’m allowed to make for myself. Because Twitter is now a must. Are you Twittering? Why aren’t you Twittering? Blogs are so 2004. If you’re not Twittering, you might as well be chiseling a stone tablet. Or dead.

Look, I’m not a Luddite. I maintain three blogs and a Facebook page. But for me, Twitter is just one more damned thing, one more beast that constantly needs to be fed or else people will stop caring whether I exist.

More to the point, Twitter smells like a fad. It’s the new, shiny thing that everyone can’t stop talking about until the next new, shiny thing comes along.

Besides, when Larry King begins Twittering, you know that the cool kids will soon be leaving the party.

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