I have been interested in Twitter for a while. It seems to be quite the hot site/activity these days. Everyone is talking twitter this, twittering that. Occasionally I have gone to the site with the intent to sign up, but I always ended up backing out at the last minute (not sure why). This morning I was listening to Weekend Edition on NPR. Weekend Edition/Scott Simon are pitching themselves into the almost 2010s and have set up You Tube and Twitter accounts. In this segment Scott Simon was trying to explain Twitter to Dan Shore. Now Dan Shore is about 100 (for real) and I'm not sure Daniel Shore was fully embracing the concept, but I thought I needed to jump into Twitter and check it out myself.
So, I set myself up with a Twitter account and ran my Hotmail account through to see if any of my friends have Twitter accounts (almost none do). The first thing I learned is that Dan Shore is actually Dan Schorr (after 10 years or so of visualizing him as Dan Shore). The second thing I learned is that through twitter you can jump to youtube and actually see what Dan Schorr and Scott Simon look like. Goodness, so much information without any effort or thought.
And after spending some time browsing, I don't quite get Twitter. I guess you post what you're up to. Or you can post witty comments, words of wisdom, philosophical observations, inpiration, links to whatever, and really just pure crap. Then, anyone who is following you can check it out (maybe they get an email?). Most of the posts seem to be in some sort of code. In the effort to stay under 140 characters (or whatever the limit is) people do a lot of abbreviating/omitting of words and many of the posts come out a bit garbled. I am assuming that if you are on frequently, it all begins to make sense. I think it's a bit like Facebook, Facebook has a place for one to make some comment, it's called a 'status update'. (my current status update is "Roberta is excited to be getting a cold, what could be better - freezing temperatures and sickness when it should be spring. I guess Twitter is just a perpetual status update and your followers care (or not).
Twitter does have some cool applications. I guess Obama, or his campaign/employees use Twitter to get their message out. The NPR show was speaking about politicians being frequent users of Twitter to keep their constituents abreast of what is going on. Or to sell their positions. I looked at a couple senators twitter pages and it looks like most of the tweets (?) are links to comments they have made or articles. I do think that is kind of cool. And I think it makes our Democracy more of a Democracy.
And I was thinking of the social applications - in a teenage obsessive Twitterer kind of way. Think how tuned in you could be. Or think how frequently you could 'bump in to' (stalk) someone you have a crush on. I really do think that the current teenage/20 something generation must have a completely different sense of privacy, personal space, and their connectedness to both people they know and to politicians and other famous people. Imagine the connection a teenager today must feel to Obama (having gotten emails and tweets from him for 18 months) versus how I might have felt towards say Reagan or Mondale in 1984 (by the way, I just googled it, did you know Reagan won 49 states in 1984! Mondale won Minnesota and DC, God). Also, imagine the different sense of ego that must go with the knowledge that people are following your every move.
So, how I might use Twitter? Well, I am not sure I will. I think it's a bit like a tree falling in the woods with no one around to hear. If you're reguarly posting witty, pithy tweets to Twitter and you have no followers, is it really a tweet???