Microblogging is not for me

I have always suspected that the trendy new web 2.0 tools are not for everybody’s taste, and now I was able to thoroughly experience what it is like to be on the side of the non-adopters and how they might be put off by some trends.

Being curious about why so many people are shifting from blogging to microblogging, I created a Twitter account and was willing to get into it. (Thanks to the nice welcome by my followers.) But after one week, I knew that this is a tool that does not suit my preferences.

As Jon Kruithof nicely summarized it after his week one:

“One downfall is the lack of context.”

Following the long, linear, unstructured stream of uniformly shrinked messages is just a strain for me. Without context, it is more difficult to recognize what might be interesting and also more difficult to dive into the topic if it does look interesting.

Furthermore, if the statuses are only announcing blog posts or only communicating bookmarks (often not even annotated bookmarks), then I prefer my RSS reader. (In fact, I suspect that one factor of microblogging’s success is that RSS is still not yet optimally leveraged.) And the cryptic tinyurls without clicktext bug me (although I never advocated that URLs should be “speaking”, but at least they offer some hint about the not yet followed links).

Also Jon dislikes the twitter use of merely sharing information (see his week 3/4). And it is not incidentally that he, like me, dislikes using IM software, as well.

Clearly, I don’t belong to microblogging’s proper target audience. But nevertheless I increased its success statistics by one. I wonder if this pattern contributes to the hype cycle. Somewhere in the ascending slope, there are both

  • people whose preferences and needs are met,
  • but also people who do it because it is “in”.

Then, in the “trough of disillusionment”, types like me drop out, and as the statistics decrease, those who do it because it was “in” lose their incentive and drop out, as well. So probably, looking at the styles and preferences would be more rewarding than just staring at the numbers.

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5 Responses to Microblogging is not for me

  1. Jenny Mackness says:

    It’s not for me either – but I did realise on the CCK08 course, that if I’d been a ‘twitterer’, then I would have been ‘in the know’ when synchronous sessions moved location from Ustream to Elluminate. So I suppose there are some instances when the instantaneousness of Twitter might be useful.

    According to a friend of mine you need to be following at least 150 people for the benefits of twitter to become apparent. I’m afraid this bit of information did not tempt me.

    Have you closed your account?


  2. x28 says:

    Thanks for your opinion. No, I have not yet closed my account, just in case.

  3. Barbara Braun says:

    It works for me now but it hasn’t until a while ago. Jenny’s friend is right – you need a network. I don’t think you need 150 people but rather 30 active ones. Best if you actually know them.

    So do I get out of it – I did instantly get some important hints when I was in trouble with a mac/pc problem. I got an invitation for a conference when I “twittered” about wikis in general – and I get updates of my friends quite regularly. We will see if it’s made for the future.

  4. Jenny Mackness says:

    Thanks Barbara – You are right about the 150. I meant 50!! Bit of a difference – but even so too many for me!


  5. Bruce Spear says:

    Thanks for the generous comment, Matthias! Your note on the importance of context for the effective use of Twitter is right on. I believe my students and I were able to use Twitter effectively in a language classroom because they had good reasons to post for me, the teacher, because I assigned them to use it, and to post for each other, as my analysis, http://bit.ly/TWf28, suggests, because some needed peer group support, wanted to keep in touch, wanted to help each other, etc. Not everyone was comfortable with it. Some people do many interesting things, but entering into different kinds of conversations may not be one of them: while some otherwise quiet students found a voice on Twitter, others became quieter. The institution reinforces both cooperation and competition, too: some seek the attention of their peers, others not. Some did it only if they thought I was listening, as if it were a direct email and not a many-to-many form, and when they did not get the responses they were looking for, they quit, went on strike, etc. Thanks again for your kind comment! All the best, Bruce

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