Twitter and I

Mistakes, Twitter

As a part of admitting my error in letting my blog become only an echo of my tweets from twitter these past months, I thought i would start in looking at Twitter itself.

A little over four months ago, in a small forum for local photographers, someone brought up Twitter, and how many of us were using it.  I know that previously phone numbers would be made available on links at to reach people for gathering together – but that was almost all that I knew about twitter.  Well, ok, that’s not true.  I did also know that it was getting bigger – because more people i knew were using it, and i was seeing all sorts of integration tools for twitter as well.

So I decided to ask the group a question:

How do you use it, what do you get out of Twitter? What does a twittered life have that is so cool?

And I got all sorts of answers that mostly seemed to say, “try it and see”.  I researched it further and found the professionals equally perplexed at Twitter’s success.  In fact, Twitter seems to have been a spin off of a larger tech startup where this one small piece had greater value than the whole.

Even the reviewers did not seem to have good answers:

So why has Twitter been so misunderstood? Because it’s experiential. Scrolling through random Twitter messages can’t explain the appeal. You have to do it — and, more important, do it with friends. (Monitoring the lives of total strangers is fun but doesn’t have the same addictive effect.) Critics sneer at Twitter and Dodgeball as hipster narcissism, but the real appeal of Twitter is almost the inverse of narcissism. It’s practically collectivist — you’re creating a shared understanding larger than yourself.
Clive Thompson on How Twitter Creates a Social Sixth Sense

So I created an account and tried it out.  I soon was able to put together a model in my head for what it was – but it didn’t answer for me the question of what it did.  It reminded me of IRC – the old Internet Chat standard – except everyone was starting “muted” or silent and I had to find and turn on each one to hear them.  I also had to get my friends to join in, and there were concerns for what a time-sink this could be.

And so that is how i ended up letting become a twitter echo only.  I found myself listening to my friends navigating their days.  Small details – never more than the 140-character limit of Twitter – of my friends’ lives surfaced.  Listening to a couple of friends planning dinner with one another, or someone else sharing a new web site, or being able to tweet a question to my group of friends and get many answers back.  That’s what Twitter did for me.

A sonar ping only carries so much information about where ships or obstacles are at that moment, but over time it can paint a detailed landscape of information about what each ship or obstacle is doing, and who is on or off course.

Of course, Twitter is still a part of my life and this blog.  i just won’t let it replace my own landscape imagery.  You deserve more than just a sonar map of my life and my errors and my occasional lessons i have learned.

You deserve a guided tour….

1 Comment

One Response

  1. Margaret says:

    Thank you for sending me the link to this blog entry, James. You know I have always been a fan of your written words. I haven’t been to merewisdom in eons…I love what you’ve done with the place. And, about deserving more than just a sonar map of your life? Well, I’m not sure what your friends deserve, but I do know that your sharing your world through words and photos and expressed experiences, continue to be a true gift to me. I am the fortunate one.

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