I’ve been watching the Twitter phenomena from the sidelines. Almost out of nowhere, this new instant-messaging app has become the rage of the Web as people decide it’s cool to have the ability to broadcast wherever you are to whoever you want: “Hey, I’m taking out the trash now!” or “Eating some great pepperoni pizza”. To be honest, it strikes me as something right out George Orwell’s “1984″ but, hey, we live in an always-connected digital age where people check their e-mail incessantly so why should a personal presence broadcasting service be seen as strange or unacceptable.
That said, the question is whether Twitter is anything more than digital crack for the bleeding-edge or leading-edge who are always on the look out for something new and different. Does Twitter have staying power once the novelty wears off and folks get tired of telling friends/family where they are, whiile others get tired of receiving notifications about whattheir friends/family are doing? Is Twitter destined for the Web 2.0 scrap heap once something newer and shinier comes along.
Forrester analyst Charlene Li believes Twitter’s popularity will quick fade because it’s “going to be overused, overload people, who will then get turned off. There is just simply too much noise and not enough valuable “signal” to be worthwhile.” (Update: The Wall St. Journal also has a story on how some Twitter users are being overwhelmed) That said, Li adds there’s a role for Twitter among small groups who wants to keep in touch with each other; as an easy publishing tool; and an information aggregator.
As much as I’m a tech dabbler and happy to be seen running with the cool kids, Twitter has absolutely no appeal to me. When I’m on Skype, people can tell I’m online, and if they want to contact me, there’s e-mail and my Blackberry. So, it’s not like I really feel the need to broadcast my presence. For those are you intrigued by Twitter, Rafe Needleman has a “newbies guide” that explains in lots of detail how Twitter works.