Twitter screengrab AFC
“Can you explain Twitter to me?” my friend asked yesterday, worrying he sounded old. He wasn’t asking me what it did per say, but why any cared about it. I wrote him a response, but hadn’t thought to publish it until reading Edward Winkleman‘s Thursday post quoting a commenter who thought blogs had had their day. The assessment is only partially correct, particularly in relation to Twitter a tool Winkleman mentions later in the post, but to understand why a bit of background is needed. As such, I’m reposting my email explaining the practical use value of twitter, and will follow it with a post about importance of editorial imprimatur. This post does not address how the tool effects art criticism, though I will note the art world has not yet seen the equivalent of the record review tweeter 1000TimesYes. Jon Williams points out this isn’t entirely true. http://twitter.com/vvork
Twitter: What’s It Good For?
1: Let’s say a plane crashes into a tower; It’s the most relevant news item of that day, but Google doesn’t bring back results because it relies on links. Twitter solves that problem, because user status updates are entirely searchable. Twitter isn’t just a web app, it’s a search engine.
2: RSS feeds are great, but sometimes you don’t want to read everything on that site. A blogger with a twitter account (doesn’t always) but typically will post links only to the most interesting stories. Twitter is a filter.
3: 140 characters isn’t a lot to work with so it forces people to be very concise. In fact, I would go so far to say that its short hand will likely change written English (far more significantly than say, LOL). Twitter is a headline generator ideal for scanning.
4: Unlike Facebook, just because someone follows you on twitter doesn’t mean you have to follow them. Facebook has some of these settings of course (more from this person, less from this person) but it’s all manual, and more than I have time to manage quite honestly. Twitter is a semi-permeable membrane (excuse the cliche), that allows users to filter the information coming in, while maximizing the distribution outwards.
Part two to follow.