Tuesday, April 2, 2013

More on Whether You Should Stop Using Twitter

Since being picked up by Ezra Klein, I've seen several responses to my piece on giving up Twitter from around the web, and in reply on Twitter (direct twitter replies have a high enough signal/noise ratio that they're worth reading). Some assorted followups:

  • Several Tweeps pointed out that, ironically, while I was busy giving up Twitter for Lent, Tweetdeck went and added the filtering features I really need. Maybe someday I will give this a try. This is a bit surprising since I thought I had read that Twitter was about to end-of-life Tweetdeck, but I guess only mobile Tweetdeck is being mothballed. Good job, Tweetdeck! Others recommended services such as paper.li to extract the links from your Twitter feed.
  • There were lots of replies of the form "You're doing it wrong". The problem isn't Twitter per se, the problem is having the wrong people in your timeline. Snark isn't the problem, lazy & uninteresting snark is the problem. But this is something of a "guns don't kill people" argument. The format lends itself all to easily to lazy & uninteresting snark. It's basically open mic night at the comedy club, except that everyone in the audience is on the mic. Every once in a while, someone who's not a regular comedian hits one out of the park, and those are genuinely great moments, but it's a once-in-a-blue-moon occurrence. It's just not worth wading through the less great moments to see those.

    Similarly, there's no avoiding the personal preferences of your followers. If I want to follow a lot of DC journalists than my feed fills up with #nerdprom minutae for almost a week each year. But of course a robust timeline is diverse enough that there's always a White House Correspondence Dinner, or a Consumer Electronics Show, or a this or a that. Getting twitter to turn the volume down on these non-recurring events is ... hard.
  • Matt Yglesias makes a bold defense of faffing about on Twitter.

    His argument is, roughly, hey, Twitter is both useful and fun, and having fun is an important part of life, so if you're in a position where you can combine something that's useful and something that's fun, you'd be a fool not to. I think this is where the kids these days say YOLO, but neither of us count as the kids these days anymore.

    This is a fair point, but again I'd bring up the signal-to-noise ratio. I rather get higher quality faff, perhaps from something like Cracked, Buzzfeed, or certain sites that are part of the Cheezburger empire (comixed, memebase, etc.)
When I can get Twitter to look less like this:

And more like this:
then I might come back. But until then I'll seek out other forms of information.


Rashad said...

I started using (reading and a wee bit of producing) on twitter during the Egyptian revolution, and it was great. But once I got back to the US the overwhelming deluge was just too much and I went back to just relying on a massive blog list in google reader. I figure if something really interesting comes along, one of the blogs I read will mention it.

srcsmgrl said...

The problem there is that Reader is going away. Sigh.

Rebecca said...

Alternatively the various "you are doing it wrong" comments could be short hand for "Actually I find my twitter feed enjoyable" I admit that I found the generalization from your individual experience to some sort of universal truism (complete with arbitrarily generalized statistics) made it hard to take seriously.

Nick Beaudrot said...

I liked my twitter feed too! But consuming it has a large opportunity cost. If you're the kind of person who can read the last 25 or 50 tweets and just mark the rest as read, it's probably pretty entertaining. I am, shall I say, not.