I’ve heard that blogging breaks the barriers between Author and Audience. Well, Twitter breaks the barrier between blogger and commenter. It’s group instant messaging or microblogging for your phone or on the web. Whenever Stick’s dad asks me about a tech buzzword, I make an offline comparision and end with “Like one of those, but faster.” Slower offline Twitter would be, um, talking.
I’m not crazy about the blend between group messaging because I follow parts of different Twitter-crowds so a lot of the time I hear half a conversation. (Also because my China friends have this obnoxious habit of posting in Chinese, but I think my troubles with Mandarin are my own problem and not Twitter’s) Also there’s a lot of the boring side of blogging, what folks ate for lunch and what they watched on TV.
I do like the quick chatting with distant friends, and the instant transmission of information, especially the on-the-spot reporting of China news. My dad told me a story about some soviet country in media lockdown, where local ham radio operators reported and relayed the news abroad (or something like that, I was little). I really enjoy the hearing news from my friends — and I have some pretty far-flung friends — on blogs and by email, and then comparing that to the official news. Twitter is accessible by cellphone, which means tweeting from the subway (not going to name names here, but SOMEONE I know really likes to do this!), which means instant reporting from Twitterati on handhelds across the world.
I should admit that even though it’s cool and cyberpunk, I don’t have Twitter updates going directly to my phone unless they’re specifically targeted to me. It would be a cool future feature if we could tag tweets as high-priority, so I could get news without a constant buzz of “@somebody yeah lol” on my phone. I’m sure some spammers would abuse that tag, but it would still be a cool feature.
I’m surprised by how fast Twitter developed spam, and how fast that spam found me. I get these “SoAndSo is following you on Twitter!” messages, only to find out the SoAndSo is selling something or aggressively promoting their site. There’s been a lot of chat about good Twitterquette, my own take is that tweeting a blog post, mentioning your new site and promoting a story you like are all fine. But endless posts pointing to one site or misleading links (which is even easier with the use of TinyURL or a similar program to reduce the characters in a link) is spammy.
Anyway, if you get on Twitter, I’m creatively named simpsonsparadox.