Twitter: The Crack of the Web?

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.

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  • Chris Garrett

    Not sure about crack, it’s more like listening in to a party phone line (not that I have ever done that). I have had to turn it off a few time so as not to be too distracted by it :)

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  • Shaun Rotman

    I can’t agree with you more. I personally see no need in updating the world every second of the day as to what I am doing at every moment. However I don’t think this trend will die out any time soon.

    A while before Twitter was released to the world, Facebook implemented a similar feature called “Status” (Wow! What a brilliant name!) that allows users to update their current status message for all to see and it would be posted in user’s feed that one of their friends had made this adjustment.

    I personally don’t use this feature so much but I can confirm that many do, and Twitter is just another outlet for this social interaction. Wouldn’t it be great if Facebook either implemented Twitter’s universally accessible update capabilities? OR maybe bought out Twitter? Facebook users could update their statuses from anywhere! Well… it’s a thought…

    I’m not hopping on the bandwagon anytime soon though. If I updated Twitter as often as some others do, I’d have no time to actually be doing anything between updates! That and from Toronto it costs $0.40 per SMS to update!!! (WTF!? I love you too Rogers…)

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  • Sean Evans


    You raise a good point, in jest but very truthful, about not having time to do anything else. Begs the questions who is using Twitter. I know Tara Hunt and Steve Rubel are big fans, but I’m busy enough at work (and with the rest of my life) as it is. When I do have down time, I don’t really feel like telling the world what I’m doing. (“Sitting in my boxers, drinking beer, watching Family Guy.”)

    There may be a bigger question that needs to be addressed – in this day of technology development which is supposed to increase productivity, are actually getting less productive because of it? We may be accomplishing more, but we’re also engaged over more hours of the day. Before our time, when you left the office, the office stayed there. When you left the house, the phone stayed there. These days…well…you get my point.


  • Rob Hyndman

    “Does Twitter have staying power once the novelty wears off.”

    No – and I’ll give 2:1 odds, 12 months out.

  • Kathy Sierra

    “Does Twitter have staying power once the novelty wears off.”

    fingers crossed for No.

    Thanks for the post — we (non-Twitter-fans) appear to be in the minority.

  • Hsien Lei

    So I guess I can stop waiting for you to show up on Twitter. :(

  • Mark Evans

    Probably not. :)

  • Mat

    I’m with you Mark. I don’t see the point in terms of the way it’s currently being used. It’s useful maybe for friends who want to organise social outings, even businesses trying to communicate with an outdoor workforce. But not much else.

  • Benno

    I use twitter everyday. I don’t post updates to it constantly but at least 1 or 2 a day. Once you start using it and reading what other people are doing you find things you have in common. Often you start a small conversation through twitter with people you don’t really know. People that don’t get it are the ones who haven’t tried it or if they did try it missed the important step of adding people as friends

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