Occupational thoughts

Covering life on the home front.

Twitter is not a social network

with 3 comments

I want to make this clear because Twitter gets a lot of hype in the media. All this hype means it has grown in popularity at an extraordinary rate. Even the grand emperor and Oxford City Council have Twitter accounts so we’re not to scoff.

Twitter claims to be a micro-blogging service. However, the unnecessary 140 character limit sometimes reduces it to a link farm, not only that but said links must be shortened to fit under the limit. Alternatively people tweet with text-speak, or they use it as an instant-messaging service. There are a few dedicated twitter users who will use twitter as a micro-blogging service, for example the Documentally man, I fail to understand how he can make a real point about politics/current affairs in under 140 characters… Oh right! That’s why he has a real blog, you know, for actually writing stuff that people want to read.

If we look into further depth about these aformentioned loyal twitter users, we find that they too contravene the defenition of a social network: A survey made last month suggested that the top 10% of Twitter users created 90% of tweets. The presented system of mass conversation between total strangers is a lie. It is not a ‘social network’ it is incredibly anti-social as twitter users harvest followers who they don’t know and propogate a one-way flow of information which was the reason twitter came into being in the first place. Granted twitter is a little more democratic than say newspapers or television, but compared to the rest of the internet it has some catching up to do.

Twitter cannot be a proper blogging site for the omission of a calendar with archives, the ability to comment on a specific item and the low character limit.
It cannot be a social network for the inability to follow conversations, the one-way flow of information and the harvesting of followers which leads to the drowning out of your message.

The only time Twitter really shone doing what it should was during the Iranian crisis when the activists and citizen journalists took Twitter as the vessel for thir message. They chose wisely, but why did they chose it? For a start they wanted a system with short load times due to the bandwidth restrictions of the islamic government (the percieved short load times are actually false… but that’s for another time). Secondly they wanted to be heard, so they organised themselves with a hash tag which could be applied to the masses that were attempting to get the word out. And thirdly, Twitter is accessible by SMS message, which makes it ideal for tweeting ‘in the wild’ so to speak.

You might be able to tell that I didn’t plan this article before writing it, it’s nearly over and I’m even sounding a bit like the Daily Mail, to prove that I’m not totally ignorant about Twitter: here’s my Twitter account.

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Written by Pierre

July 22, 2009 at 13:37

Posted in technology

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3 Responses

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  1. […] leave a comment » Here’s another Twitter-bashing post which coincides with my using Twitter a lot more than I did before. Of course I’m not using it as a micro-blogging service like what it’s meant for but that’s a story for another time. […]

  2. My dad says twitter is for self-obsessed people, just thought i should share that, no implication. Out of interest how many people follow you on it?

    Anonymous

    July 24, 2009 at 16:45

  3. Pierre, Actually I think your article is well researched and has more links than usual (that’s good).
    Don’t forget that you only use twitter from a PC perspective. The 140 char limit works because many people twitter from mobile devices. (as in the Iran case). But I think you are right – there is no reason why twitter could not change the character limit to 500 for non mobile users for example….

    Side point, your blog would be more conversational if the comments were shown after the article without having to click the comments link (IMHO).

    Peter

    July 23, 2009 at 07:54


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