So I’ve tried to tackle Twittering this last couple of weeks, and so far I think the results are at best mixed. Ultimately the only thing it seems to allow me to do is to follow people who are of course far more interesting than me. I follow Paul Krugman and Nick Kristof (from the NY Times); Levar Burton & Brent Spiner (Star Trek TNG); Freakonomics (authors of the book); and a few others. While I find this interesting because I am able read their updates immediately and at least in the case of the NY Times writers they ARE interesting and something that I’m interested in. However I really wonder why I’m on there, certainly I am not a celebrity and I think that anything I have to had is pretty mundane (an update on changing my son’s diapers does not seem very important). In an earlier guise I might have been one to dismiss this rather silly look at the world. And yet there seems to be some potential here. I also follow Kiva.org, the UNHCR, and Creative Commons, among others. This seems like yet another way to keep up with what is going on in the world. Ultimately since there are so few people following me (a couple good friends, my wife, and Fawlty Towers DVD) I guess it doesn’t really matter. There’s no need for me to do anything else but lurk and find out what Levar Burton and Brent Spiner think (or maybe what their publicists think, I really have no idea).
The question that I have is why does anybody do it? There has to be some reason why so many people are using it, right? Hopefully I can figure this out, I’m not willing to dismiss it yet, but it doesn’t yet seem to have a point for me.
November 23 update – Just heard of one fascinating use for Twitter. A college professor uses it to encourage questions from students who might not otherwise want to speak up. He has them twitter their questions in class, they remain relatively anonymous and he gets the input he wants. It’s an interesting twist on what we think that Twitter is all about.