Looking at the Twitter homepage, one might assume it's little more than a self-indulgent dumping ground for trivial details about the activities of complete strangers.
Journalists, including the Houston Chronicle's Loren Steffy, and industry analysts, such as top-flight enterprise software commentator, Judith Hurwitz, sometimes draw this conclusion. Unfortunately, they are wrong.
Why do smart observers sometimes misunderstand Twitter? Dwight Silverman, another Houston Chronicler and an active Twitter user, points out that many reporters and columnists:
[D]on't even try using Twitter in the way its regulars do....To really understand Twitter as a journalist, I think you have to live with it for a while, just as you would when reviewing a software program.
Twitter's value emerges as one becomes engaged in a community of peers, colleagues, and friends. A lone Twitter user, sending out tweets into the wilderness, will likely become bored and uninterested quickly. After all, talking to oneself isn't usually great fun. The real action happens when you subscribe or follow, to use the jargon, others' Twitter feeds. Finding compatible people, with whom one might enjoy interacting, takes time and requires some investment of effort, and is an essential part of the Twitter experience.
Twitter is indeed about details, however this isn't necessarily bad. Both in real life and on Twitter, small details reveal the fabric of a person's interests, personality, character, and even their level of integrity. Substantive relationships are built on the foundation of these small details, out of which arise common feelings and good will.
Before following someone on Twitter, I always check their blog and Twitter history, and often do a quick Google search. Immediately, I have a sense of the person, to make an informed decision whether or not to engage them. When I choose to interact, I already know him or her to a certain degree, even though we've never spoken before.
Some say we’re addicted to Twitter. It’s not the platform we’re addicted to – it’s humanity and improving our lives, our minds, our businesses, and the human condition.
That's the real magic of Twitter: the interesting and meaningful relationships one develops through the exchange of 140-character tweets.