Twittering the life away

I admit, I don't understand Twitter. I'm still trying to get a good explanation on what it is, what the benefits are. It strikes me as a Facebook status on steroids.

This story about Fast Company blogger Robert Scoble doesn't make me feel any better about it:

I asked Robert how much time he actually spends on those services. He monitors them all day, he said, hitting refresh over and over on both...he says he spends at least seven hours a day, seven days a week, actually reading and responding directly on those services.

That’s 2,555 hours over the last year...[i]t is an addiction.

His blog has clearly suffered. He now posts only a few times a week, sometimes sporadically writing multiple posts in a day but often skipping 3-4 days in between. A year ago, Robert wrote multiple posts, every day. I used to read his blog daily, now I visit once a week.

I realize this is probably an outlier case, but if this thing is even 1/10th as addictive to the normal person, count me out.


jk said...

Facebook is a place. You log on to your page or view other peoples' pages. You put your updates in from your main page, unless you have a Facebook-ready application (like at hand. You can go from place to place, but you have to go *to* a place to see your updates.

Twitter is a service. While you can hit "update" constantly on your Twitter home page, very few Tweeters (or Twits) actually do this. A tweeter is most likely to use her mobile phone to tweet, both sending and receiving. I use a combination of Tweetdeck (a Mac application) and my mobile phone. Tweets were always intended to be short, sweet updates of no more than 140 characters, explicitly designed for mobile devices.

Facebook and its cousins (LinkedIn, MySpace, Ning, etc) are like a giant neighborhood festival with big posterboards at everyone's house. You go from place to place, reading updates and looking at their pages, albums and pictures of their hot girlfriends.

Twitter is like a giant cocktail party. You bring your space with you. As you are going about your daily business, you hear snippets of conversation around you: tweets which are broadcast to everyone, directly sent to you, or shouted from one person to another. You are surrounded by the buzz, but above it.

In short, with Facebook, the site is the party; with Twitter, the party goes with you.

Another analogy is between Yahoo and Google. Remember the early days of the internet, when search engines thought they had to have as much crap on the search page as possible? Then Google came along with an insanely minimalist search page. Compare your Facebook home page with your Twitter home page. With Facebook, you bring your baggage and park it on the site, just like links had to be registered with Yahoo!. With Twitter, you bring your content to the conversation; the service is just a jumping-off point, just like Google's search page was, once upone a time. Facebook is to Yahoo as Twitter is to Google.

The differences between all the social networks are sharpening as companies find their niches in the space. You'll see some crossover in features, but each one has a personality imprinted on it from birth. Here are my impressions of each:

LinkedIn is that boring business party you felt obligated to go to because your boss invited you. But, hey, you met your next boss there.

MySpace is the party run by your buddy who never finished Cincinnati State. He lives in a crappy neighborhood and has to drive one of those cars tricked out with ads to pay the rent, but his band really rocks out. If you could understand their lyrics, you'd be set. And, oh yeah, the cops get called at all his parties eventually.

Facebook is all your college buddies come back home after graduation. They've got some good parties at a nice apartment in an up-and-coming neighborhood downtown, but sometimes their parents show up and what the fuck's with that?

Twitter is your friends who moved away and send you the occasional email or text message where the CC list includes their other friends, whom you don't know. The email is usually hilarious and short and you forward it to everyone else you know. You really wish your friends had moved back home, but you've met some really cool people through the emails they sent. And sometimes you just don't get it.

margo said...

That's one of the best analogies I've ever read. You should submit that to the New York Times, JK. Seriously, it's brilliant.

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