Principally, the discussion seems to centre around questions about the point, or lack there of, of Twitter. Isn’t it just a distraction? Is it worth while? etc etc.
Paul Bradshawe at the Online Journalism Blog is all in a flurry about twitter, and making some excellent points while he’s at it. Some of these are drawn from there.
Apart from the fact that all this discussion ultimately helps twitter grow, there are a few issues particularly guilty of generating negativity.
One comes from the Twitter site itself where it principally sells itself with the tag
stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: What are you doing?
Sure, it’s simple, but it doesn’t exactly imply any serious use or depth. It sounds like: ‘trivial, and ultimately something you could do without’. Now, like the Metro free sheet, perhaps this is all Twitter needs to make some money, but it would not really be deserving of hype and acclaim.
Closely associated, but not propagated by Twitter itself, is the claim that ‘it’s just like facebook profile updates’. Elicited response: ‘err, so?’ Quite right.
Another source of curious negativity comes from the association with celebs. Those who think that many celebrities already make meaningless noise blindly consumed by a bored Joe Public will think Twitter is just another slimy tentacle reaching into peoples lives and distracting them from being themselves (or something similar).
The thought is that surely if Twitter is anything good it should amount to more than a new medium for celebrities to mouth off.
Thus there are plenty of quizzical whats-the-point questions to keep the debate up. What fuels the other side of the debate? Why don’t we just throw up our hands and say that it has no point? That it’s ‘dumb but fun for some’?
I think the answer is that Twitter feels like it has potential – something as yet mostly unrealised but glimmering and promising somewhere in the near future.
Quickly-breaking-news-stories and organising-large-groups-of-people point towards this potential, but aren’t quite it -the it that many are anxious to be a part of but can’t articulate yet. That it’s unarticualed probably accounts for the fact that it is so often described as ‘answers to ‘what are you doing now?’ ‘ or ‘like facebook updates’ – and hence more quizzicle questions. The supporters want to say more, but they don’t quite know what to say yet.
I’ve enjoyed Twitter so far – it’s a bit like being in a small (but growing) exclusive club, like Facebook in the old days – but have a lingering feeling that there really does need to be more of a point to the Tweets.
How can I make it purposeful? Both in what it put out, and in who I follow. Here’s a thought:
“Twittasophical: Philosophy in 140 characters.”
Since much of philosophy is about asking questions, it might sit well with some probing 140 character questions. Perhaps it should be called Philosophy140.
In the meantime though, I can try and make at least some of my tweets non-trivial, and keep looking, with all the others, for that elusive ‘it’.
I follow – 15
Following me -12
Verdict in progress: Fun, but looking for something more.