I have nothing to say about Twitter and I’m saying it


Pardon me if I don’t blog about Twitter.

I’ve had more fun with it than any other web application in ages, certainly since the glory days of YouTube (back when they didn’t care about respecting copyright). But I have no desire to post my Tweets on my blog (or vice versa), and most of the Twitterhacks I see leave me cold. I would prefer not to spoil the fun with analysis.

That is not a swipe at my friends and heroes who are thinking hard about what 140 character doses of text might mean for educators. At the very least, their efforts mean my Twittime counts as “applied research” rather than “goofing off.” I am grateful.

I’ll spare you my own wishlist for how I’d like to see Twitter improve. I know that it’s hard to search for people, and that it can be disorienting to track conversations across accounts. I’ll admit I’d like to hide some of my Twits from some people. But Twitter is the garage band (not GarageBandTM) of web applications — clunky, unprofessional, lots of missed notes, yet possessed of glorious shambling charm.

I’ve said in the past that I think of this blog as the equivalent of the “hallway chatter” I might engage in when at a conference. If that holds, then my worktime twits are like the snarky remarks I whisper during other people’s presentations, and my offtime ones more like the trash talk I spill at the pub just before last call.

I’ve felt for some time that Twitter would have a short shelf life. If it continues to grow in popularity the intimacy and backchannel quality of the dialogue will die — I already have more Twitfriends than I feel comfortable with. And I figured it wouldn’t be long before people would burn out on it (people drop out all the time), or move to a more feature-rich alternative.

But I didn’t expect harbingers of doom to appear so quickly. Already there is movement toward Jaiku, which is superior to Twitter in every respect except its user community, positively loaded with nifty features. Think of it as prog rock. The recent and relentless instability of Twitter (I do wish they’d ditch the server problem lolcats) has prompted rumbles of revolt from the Twits — there was an aborted revolution in my circle yesterday. Part of me doesn’t really see this as an important choice — we have RSS after all, and I doubt it will be long before our micro-blogging community is no more significant than our choice of blogging platform.

I’m uncomfortable with the tenor of this post, which has veered uncomfortably close to analysis for my liking. I’d really just prefer to let the mystery be and have fun with it.

I had hoped to maintain a similar professional distance from Facebook, and just enjoy making lists of my favorite bands and hooking up with old friends again. But then they went all social networking platform on us, and I think given the usage levels on campus and their rather fearsome chops that’s just too significant a development to ignore. I certainly would be freaking out if I was holding Blackboard stock today. I’d say that Andy’s Stamp Syndicate (background here) is a much safer investment at this point.

About Brian

I am a Strategist and Discoordinator with UBC's Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology. My main blogging space is Abject Learning, and I sporadically update a short bio with publications and presentations over there as well...
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