Twitter: is there any point?

Twitter: is there any point?

Summary: The last few days have been an eye-opener for me, because I've discovered there may in fact be little point in having Twitter. I see Twitter as a pain in the arse, something you have to go out of your way for and tell the world something you really shouldn't have to.


what's the point?The last few days have been an eye-opener for me, because I've discovered there may in fact be little point in having Twitter. I see Twitter as a pain in the arse, something you have to go out of your way for and tell the world something you really shouldn't have to. I'm not the sort of person who'll want to keep the world updated about a) my bowel movements, b) where I'm heading to or c) some other crap which nobody else cares about.

There are two sides to every story (at least), of course.

Twitter is what we call an "Enterprise 2.0" application; not only a web application which tells the world what you're doing, but is highly influential in the way businesses run, keeping customers and partners informed and gaining feedback on services.

Facebook has just been declined a $500m offer for the Twitter brand, name and application, which as Steve Clayton rightly points out, "is a big chunk of cash for something that isn’t making money at the moment." However with the massive force behind Facebook, many simply update their status their instead.

For those, and us indeed, who are at university, Twitter isn't something that seems to be catching on. I've got many, many friends on Facebook which is used to interconnect the campuses, the counties and the continents, but Twitter just doesn't seem to have taken off. And thinking about it, how are they making their money? Whether we like it or not, most web startup's don't survive the first 18 months; I dread to think what they have to do to keep themselves going.

Whilst it may be a next-generation application, I still struggle to see the point it makes, or the impact it has. With the API and development opportunities, it's certainly made an impact in developing technologies such as Adobe AIR, but besides this I fail to see why I should continue to update mine; something I haven't done in months.

Whether you're a Twitter user or not, let me know. I'd much rather find a viable answer to this question than be left in the dark any more.

Topic: Social Enterprise

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  • Funny, this blog was delivered to me via Twitter...

    I use it to keep up with blog updates, authors, musicians, as well as friends. The breakthrough for me was when I installed the TwitterFox add-on for Firefox. Since I spend all day in FireFox anyway, this makes things much more convenient.
    • Ironic, Indeed

      It was delivered to me via e-mail. Odd that I didn't need a Web 2.0 app to find it.
      Adam S
      • Ditto. No text.

  • I'd like to say:


    Sorry, couldn't resist. But for something more substantive:

    Thank you so much for validating my issue with Twitter... I
    like Pownce, but only because it's a true microblog. Plurk is
    fun if nothing else, like IRC-meets-Whackamole. But Twitter
    is a mass of half-conversations and bad grammar tossed like
    a salad of mixed greens and undercooked fish.
    • GAH! Not first!

      I got beat by a half-second. Oh well. Anyway, remember what
      I said: mixed greens and undercooked fish == Twitter.
    • Undercooked Fish?

      Nice analogy....seriously. May I add a bit of Shakepeare:

      Twitter is "...a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more: it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."*

      Be well,
      Jeffrey J. Hardy

      * Mcbeth, Act 5, Scene 5
  • RE: Twitter: is there any point?

    I agree, it is a pain for little return. I initially tried it because all my 'IT buddies' said it was the greatest thing since sliced bread, but when I signed on and started 'following' folks and wanted to use it as a resource/help desk (which was how it was pitched), the 'bowel movements' and 'navel gazing' was all that 'twittered' across my screen and took up my time. I agree, FB is way better. From another IT dude to you... I thought your article was awesome in outlining its uselessness... the zinger about FB not biting too was great...
    • Here's One Point

      As a professional resume writer I make it my job to know what recruiters are up to so my clients accelerate their job search efforts. One of many experts in this field, Joel Cheesman,, wrote an article just last week about how recruiters are catching on to Twitter as a means to find A-players to fill positions.

      Apparently, the winners among you run in herds. Brian Starbuck, CEO of, developed a video for recruiters on Vimeo, that teaches them to recruit via Twitter where you are measured by the quality of the herds you run with.

      The theory is that top industry leaders are normally followed by A-players and these A-players follow each other. Hiring professionals are told to locate the industry leaders for a good candidate pool, set up email alerts by key word, and do a Google search using the word Twitter and key words to view Twitter profiles of the types of professionals they need to recruit.

      So... at the least, follow the leaders and make sure your profile is rich with relevant key words.

      Otherwise, I completely agree. Twitter was a constant poke in the eye for me.

    • RE: Twitter: is there any point?

      Is there any point to ANY of these things? I don't think so, and I don't know anyone that does. Twitter - Facebook - others? For what? If I really cared what you were doing or where you were, I'd call you. If I have to "invite" you to be a friend, then you probably aren't interested in being one anyway. Nothing to see here folks, move along...
  • RE: Twitter: is there any point?

    I'd disagree. If you use a decent client like TweetDeck to monitor not only your own followees but also to mount searches on the entire Twitterstream, you can end up learning quite a lot. Team this up with Snackr, which gives you a ticker of RSS feeds across the bottom of your screen and you have a great vehicle for learning things directly and peripherally related to your interests.

    There's a big "if". This only applies if you only follow people on Twitter who post useful links or ideas. As has been pointed out, there's little point in knowing about people's personal habits; I Tweet to publicise things that interest me, which I have found interesting, or which are directly related to my job.
    • i second you

      I totally agree with you on this. It is really up to you, how you use the masala twitter dumps. It is like garbage in and garbage out. There is plethora of information in this garbage. Its you job to filter this information. I have learned a lot by following some really cool people on twitter.
      Murali Bala
      • It Depends

        It depends on how you work, I guess. I only seek information to solve a problem I may have. Filtering for the answer is terribly inefficient to me. And even if I find something that might be useful later on, chances are I won't break from my habit of searching on a problem to dig through my bookmarks. Perhaps I work too much, because I don't see myself sifting through information just to find entertainment. I just channel surf.
        Adam S
    • Twitter is IRRELEVANT (more so than Facebook)

      I joined Facebook back in the day when it was "The
      Facebook" and only available to a handful of colleges. Back
      then, facebook was a useful way for college students at
      various campuses across the country to stay in touch with
      friends at other schools, share pictures of their exploits,
      find their friends' class schedules, and get in touch with
      other people in your classes (e.g. to get notes if you
      skipped class). Ever since adding "facebook apps" the
      focus has shifted more towards fitting as many ads onto a
      page as they can before users will complain, and pointless
      "games" about how your friend's pirate-vampire-zombie-
      ninja has attacked you, and you should attack someone
      else (yeah, it's basically a chain letter.) Basically, it's no
      longer a relevant NETWORKING tool, but a pseudo-blog
      for attention whores who can't run a real website, and
      know that nobody takes their LiveJournal seriously.

      Twitter, in the video on their home page, claims that it lets
      you share "your day-to-day life" with "people who care."
      This argument hinges on the following facts: 1) "your day-
      to-day life" is interesting to the "people who care" 2) "the
      people who care" don't care enough to call you on the
      phone, instant message you (if they have your Twitter info,
      we can assume they'd have your AIM/GoogleTalk info, and
      if you are Twittering, it's pretty likely you'd also be on
      AIM/GTalk as well), and most importantly 3) when the
      "people who care" ask you what you are doing, they
      actually want to know. and aren't just using the phrase as
      a preface to suggest you do something else (e.g. "what are
      you doing?" "(it doesn't matter what you reply here)" "want
      to go see a movie later?"

      Twitter then goes on to suggest that SOMEONE wants to
      know about "the little things that happen in your life" but if
      it's worth mentioning, why not just mention it on your
      blog? It may be delayed, but that ensures that the
      irrelevant crap gets filtered out. Furthermore Tweets
      usually include something to the effect of "Ack, running
      late!" "I'm so busy!" or "Working, no time for Twitter."
      Clearly, there is a problem with the people posting these
      messages that I won't go into for fear of giving myself a
      brain aneurysm.

      When you get down to brass tacks, you realize a few
      obvious things Twitter. Twitter is another symptom of the
      ADHD society we are living in, being bombarded with more
      information in a day, than people 50 years ago got in a
      year. But don't misinterpret what I mean, the amount of
      information isn't the problem; the ratio of information the
      actually matters versus the crap you have to filter out is
      the problem. The people propagating this epidemic aren't
      tweeting important things like the law President Bush is
      rushing thru in his last 8 weeks, instead you get (actual
      tweets follow): 14:12 Working. 15:00 Busy 16:36 Caught
      up on email. Ahh. 16:47 Email has stayed "caught up on"
      for 10 minutes. I'm a little amazed. 17:00 Twitter, I can't
      keep up with you. 18:42 Working hard. No, really! 20:00 It
      is too dark too early.
      B A M
      • Extremely well written comment.

        You've summed up Twitter as I know it. Excellant work!
      • To bad you didn't write the article...

        you are spot on.
  • I don't see a point, personally.

    I use RSS feeds to keep up on others. I update my status on bebo, facebook, windos messenger, yahoo and sometimes myspace if I really feel like it.

    I think this is a shiny object that will be forgotten when the luster is gone.
  • RE: Twitter: is there any point?

    I use Twitter, it's got its issues - and people have their preferences about the best application or platform for microblog.
    I understand that people don't need to let the whole world about everything that's happening to them. Probably in a uni content that's even more justified - you see lots of people you need to see face to face anyway.
    Where I find it invaluable and this can apply to the other microblogs (just that Twitter has most subscribers and is most accessible for me). Twitter helps me reach others I have no realistic chance of meeting (regularly or even ever) - people in other countries and continents, different time zones, different lifestyles - but who have declared in someway or somewhere (linked in, facebook, twitter, blogs) interests that are common with mine. Not only does twitter help understand their opinions on these subjects it actually helps develop a relationship with those people which is just about nigh impossible with other available technology or means. So that's why in my mind there is definitely a point to Twitter.
    Let me know if you have different answers to these challenges - or if you have experienced these challenges?

    Also because of Twitter's prominence as a status source - it's easy to update status's elsewhere via Twitter.
  • RE: Twitter: is there any point?

    I agree with you. I signed up with Twitter but have never really used it. I, like you, use facebook to "update my status" and I see little value in using both fb and twitter since they overlap. I see much more value in using fb.
  • RE: Twitter: is there any point?

    like Ed I sort of found it ironic that I got to this story via Twitter...and was then pleasantly surprised to find myself quoted - thanks Zack :)

    Whilst I questioned the theoretical monetary valye of Twitter, to me it's value in terms of usefulness is unquestionable. I used to have the same opinion that Twitter was home to useless blatherings about what people had for lunch. There is plenty of that about but for me the real value is having a set of friends of colleagues who I like talking to tuned in to the same global radio channel where we can all talk and listen to each other (or choose not to). Many of these people are spread aroudn the world and using a variety of platforms (Linux, OSX, Windows, mobile phones, txt messages).

    Perhaps at university that utility is less applicable with many of the people you connect with being available f2f in close proximity and all having a common platform of the Uni bar? My guess is most people I talk with and listen to on Twitter spend 50% of their day in front of a computer so the real utility of Twitter over FB is it's realtime nature.

    Just a thought...
    • Facebook isn't in real time?

      Exactly how fast do you need to know things? I see status updates on Facebook that say "2 seconds ago". I guess if Twitter is refreshing itself every second instead of you having to manually tap F5 periodically, then, Shazaam!, real value! Ha!
      Adam S