March 23, 2007
Twitter Me No Más
I have been toying with whether to write about Twitter, since A) I was at SXSW B) I really wanted to focus on conversations around the actual content, particularly the 'music and digital interactive content,' and somehow Twitter took a first row seat and C) I know I'm not the target market for the service and didn't want to bash it because of it.
Having said all that, I am still left feeling, c'mon, how many services do we need that bring us more information rather than the data we really want or need. Content that comes to EVERY device and PC that we own bringing us closer to machines and further away from people.
Before I entered my first session, four people asked me to Twitter them. By Session 3 following a conversation about meeting a few business friends for dinner, someone told me to look for the details on Twitter.
Okay, enuff already. I was quietly thinking: PLEASE don't make me sign up for another service that brings me MORE content on MORE devices.
But there was part of me that drew me in, not because I was 'okay' with spending my time learning how to use another service but because I wanted more ammunition to add to to the amount of Web 2.0 clutter currently in the market. This process makes it a lot easier to see the real gems when they come to my attention.
As an East Coast consumer technology editor friend said to me recently, "it would be so much harder to weed through the bullshit test if I lived in Silicon Valley."
I'm not saying that Twitter will fail in the long term nor am I saying that I don't believe in innovation, whether it is a feature or fad that may not last, because frankly these innovations can often lead to more sustainable technologies that do change people's lives and move us forward.
And obviously this is not just about Twitter. It's about so many services like it. Around the same time I was feeling that PLEASE don't make me sign up for another service, industry pals Dan Fost and Justin Oberman passed me in the hallway and while we were chatting about it, I decided to sign up on my open laptop that was barely connected to the SXSW overburdened wifi network.
I did not find the sign up process intuitive nor was it obvious what adding a cell phone number and email address would mean, i.e., later, I was warned not to proactively include my cell because I'd be inundated with what would start to feel like Twitter spam even if it was legit.
I later discovered that people were turning 'it off,' or certain people off, because the traffic was simply too much to handle.
Useful for a group of like-minded people within a similar community at a conference like SXSW? Perhaps, but on a regular basis? The Wall Street Journal on Twitter and The Guardian writes about why I should care.
Twitter asks: "What are you doing?" Meaning, the delivery mechanism of content shoots updates to friends, family and groups about what and where you are, via a cell phone, IM or a website.
The Guardian also points to critics issue, which is closer to where I stand: "another pointless distraction in a world already suffering information overload." Also in the article, they reference one observer's thoughts about it: "the Seinfeld of the internet ... a website about nothing."
Exactly my point. Why do I need another website or service that clutters my brain about stuff I don't absolutely need? Those raised in the states who have lived abroad may resonate with this issue more than those who have not.
They ask a really important question: So will it be a useful addition to the web, or simply another MySpace-like black hole that sucks away at our free time? SO many of these are black holes that continue to zap my free time but because I'm in the 'biz,' I feel the pull or sometimes simply have to sign up for yet another service in order to keep tabs on trends or competition.
In the last six months alone, I've played around with MySpace, FaceBook, flickr (and numerous other photo sharing sites), YouTube, Dodgeball, Jambo, the list goes on and on and on.
I remember when I couldn't go to a social or networking event in Silicon Valley without someone asking me whether I had joined Dodgeball, a service which will push group messages telling others where they're hanging out. Even those who bought into the concept early on are deactivated links to people they know because their 'so called updates' have filled their cell phones with text messages.
Would someone please come out with a service that REALLY streamlines the information I need and want (not just the promise that they will), so I can spend less time in front of blackberries, PCs, cell phones and palm-like devices?
A service that really frees up my time, one which acts as a TIGHT personalized filter will allow me to spend more time with people, nature and real art and music opposed to a virtual world of all my cultural interests. Call me old fashioned but I really like the 'REAL thing' baby -- in the flesh.
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