There are two types of people in this world: those that see things in black and white and those that see subtle shades of grey. Clearly I am in the former group.
No surprise then that it seems to me Twitter divides opinion pretty much down the middle between those that use and enjoy it and those that simply don’t get it. And by “don’t get it” I don’t mean that they are too stupid to understand some elusive fundamental truth about Twitter, just that they can’t see any value in it and don’t see any point in signing up.
Most of my friends are in the “don’t get it camp” and I get a bit of stick for being an enthusiast. Many of them ask me what’s so brilliant about it, especially as I’m not particularly known for my extensive participation in social media or even for being that friendly. So why do I Twitter?
I now work almost exclusively from home and one of the things I like about Twitter is the steady drip-drip-drip of random trivia about or from people I know. To me this is just the same as the type of conversation you have at the water cooler, over coffee or when you bump into someone in the corridor; the kind of stuff that breaks up the working day, provides interesting snippets of information, gives you a sense of community and keeps you sane. I honestly think that any company that encourages or relies on home workers should seriously look at Twitter not (just) as a tool for business communication but as a tool for encouraging the kinds of working relationships that develop in offices through the incidental interactions of people in a single physical space.
The other thing I like about it is that the value of tweets is so low that I find it easy to follow a number of ‘information emitters’ and get good value from them (lancearmstrong, TechCrunch, stephenfry, guykawasaki, jobsworth, guardiantech and twittorsphere to name a few). This seems totally counter-intuitive to me but it simply seems to boil down to the genius of only allowing 140 characters of information. I’ve always struggled to follow any significant numbers of RSS feeds because my in-box becomes clogged with hundreds of messages I simply have to read, along with hundreds (all right, probably more like tens) of emails. But with Twitter, even if I get 300 tweets in a day, we’re only talking about 3000 chars of information which can be processed in a minute or two … or simply ignored; something I’d never dream of doing with an RSS feed (but that might just be the obsessive in me). I follow more links, read more articles and pick up far more ‘good stuff’ than with any other information channel I use other than email.
I could definitely live without Twitter, but I’d rather not.