Twitter: Latest fad for the ‘Information Superhighway’

Twitter tweets you
Twitter provides you with plenty of Tweets, which are sort of like dumber versions of blog entries.

The Internet is particularly susceptible to media fad mentality. Back in the early days of the Web’s mainstreaming (about 1995), people in the media loved throwing around goofy fad terms like “Cyberspace,” “Virtual Realm,” and the “Information Superhighway.”

The latter was always my favorite, because it managed to take a one-syllable concept — the “Web” — and turn it into needless four-syllable jargonese. These names existed only because journalists wanted to sound cooler when they reported them.

Such is the case with the Internet’s latest mega-craze, Twitter. I gotta be honest with you. I fail to see the value of Twitter in about 95 percent of its application. Who needs a status update on you eating lunch, or going to a movie, or DRIVING A CAR? (Dude: Drive your car; don’t “tweet” your status for those of us “following” you.) There’s even a microblogging cat on Twitter.

The media is partially to blame for Twitter’s continued (and, to me, inexplicable) ultra-popularity. A mostly worthless endeavor has become a worldwide sensation because of the stories about it that the media reports. I don’t understand it, but facts are facts.

I mean, Ashton Kutcher races CNN to get 1 million followers? Who cares? Oprah Winfrey tweets her first message live in front of a studio audience on her show? Who cares?

Twitter is successful because everyone wants in on the action and wants to be “cool” and “hip” and “with it” and has flocked to it in a massive herd mentality. Old media (newspapers, TV, etc.) is getting in on the action because they don’t want to be perceived as, well, “old” media. Even people like me consider jumping on the bandwagon, lest we miss out on an opportunity to promote our web sites.

But the level of content on Twitter is by definition of near-zero depth. 140 characters is barely enough to write a coherent sentence, let alone a worthwhile thought.

Back in the early ’00s, when blogging was first taking off, the original concept of the blog was to provide a running online journal for anyone and everyone (but, more typically, no one) to see. Gradually, the blog evolved into the 21st-century’s opinion column, except that now anyone could be a columnist. The evolution turned something pointless into great content, and now most content on the Internet is in blog form.

But now, with Twitter, it’s like they’ve hit the blog reset button, taking the original blog concept and trapping it in a box of 140 characters, ensuring that it absolutely cannot grow into anything worthwhile, because THAT’S THE POINT. I hated the concept of the blog when it first began. And now we’re going to micro-blog the blog. What’s the point?

Eventually, maybe we’ll all come to our senses and realize that Twitter is a goofy fad. Probably around the same day that Twitter Inc., which currently has no business model, realizes they need to start tweeting us all with ads or charging for the service.

Until then, I’m going to have to decide for myself and for Jammer’s Reviews & Blog: To Twitter or not to Twitter? While Twitter would be a useful marketing tool to encourage more site interaction here, my gut tells me I don’t want to open that can of worms. To open a Twitter feed would simply create yet another monster that needs to be fed. Besides, 140 characters doesn’t seem to fit my style. If you haven’t noticed by most of my writings, I tend to be rather long-winded. I dunno, what do you think? Is Twitter worth it?


Video: Twitter is taken to the nth degree in this “Flutter” parody. It may be a joke, but at some point I’m sure this is where we’re going to end up.

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10 comments on this post

Greg M
Thursday, June 4, 2009, 2:28 am (UTC -6)

I admit, I just joined Twitter, and I’m still not entirely sure why. I’m trying to come up with a useful way to use it and It’s turned into quick thoughts, something I wouldn’t post on a board or blog, rather than what I’m doing. I think if I look at it that way, twitter can be exciting, until I get bored of it. I also like Twitter for updates on some stuff, like this blog if it happens. Of course that’s what the RSS feed is for but too many RSS feeds can get crowded. At least twitter gives you one place to get all your updates on one screen.

Jamie
Friday, June 5, 2009, 7:30 am (UTC -6)

To Twit or not to Twit–there is no question. Avoid at all costs!

Brian
Friday, June 5, 2009, 6:36 pm (UTC -6)

I think e of eels said it best when trying twitter briefly:-

“EELS have abandoned their Twitter account. “The only tweeting I wanna hear is in my backyard. This shit is not for us,” says EELS leader E.”

Jammer
Wednesday, June 10, 2009, 11:37 pm (UTC -6)

Interesting read: Twitter is the cover story on Time magazine, which claims it will change the way we live. We shall see.

Matt L.
Thursday, June 11, 2009, 5:20 pm (UTC -6)

I don’t get all the Twitter hate personally. There’s something to be said for brevity, and while there aren’t many people who are good at it–if you follow the right people it can be quite interesting and entertaining. People like Will Wheaton and Warren Ellis both spring to mind.

Do I think it deserves all the ridiculous hype that it gets? No. Not really. But it’s silly to dismiss it just because of that hype. Just as silly as it is to buy into the hype hook line and sinker.

ZL
Thursday, June 11, 2009, 5:24 pm (UTC -6)

It’s pathetic – you said it all already.
It’ll soon fall out of fashion, just like 2nd life, MySpace, soon Facebook,…
Most of any hype originates among teenagers who have a lot of time and network well, but after a few years (which is the lifespan of the above) they change their lives and a new generation with a new hype follows in their steps.
We – the Star Wars/Trek generation have matured to appreciate in-depth articles. Don’t bother.

Matt L.
Monday, June 15, 2009, 1:41 am (UTC -6)

I’m sorry ZL, but what exactly is the problem with Facebook? I use it to keep in contact with my family, which is scattered all over the country right now. I also use it to keep in contact with old friends from College.

I get that change can be hard for some people, but it really bugs me how indignant people get about it.

David
Thursday, June 25, 2009, 8:26 am (UTC -6)

I think that Facebook is likely to “last longer” than Twitter, if only by the virtue of having more variety. There is far more in the way of multiple uses.

I could never find a use for the brevity of twitter – maybe some people can, but I’m sure it’s something of a minority. So it’s not for me. There is enough inane content on useful sites such as facebook, than to need a site constructed entirely around the concept.

Destructor
Sunday, June 28, 2009, 7:05 pm (UTC -6)

This post seems woefully premature in light of the recent events in Iran. Twitter is just another communications device, to be used for good or ill.

HE
Monday, October 5, 2009, 6:30 pm (UTC -6)

I think that Facebook is likely to “last longer” than Twitter, if only by the virtue of having more variety. There is far more in the way of multiple uses.

I could never find a use for the brevity of twitter – maybe some people can, but I’m sure it’s something of a minority. So it’s not for me. There is enough inane content on useful sites such as facebook, than to need a site constructed entirely around the concept.

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