19 July 2009

Checking out Twitter

I've stayed away from Twitter, as I stay away from most of these so-called "Web 2.0" developments - they seem to offer huge amounts of scope for maximum time-wasting. However, I'm always curious as to what things like this are used for, so I joined Facebook for a few days, found nothing of interest to me and never used it again. However, you don't have to use Twitter to find out how it is used. And it bears out my worst imaginings.

Consider Stephen Fry, for example, hugely self-satisfied individual, whose TV appearances become more and more boring - here's something that would fit nicely into Private Eye's "Pseud" column:

"Just chatted with Clive Anderson in Proms interval. Lebecq sisters caused much delight with a Poulenc piece."

Or, Britney Spears (who she?):

"Just had dinner with my boys at the Eiffel Tower. So beautiful! -Britney"

John Cleese: "I like collective nouns... Like a spread of sticklebacks... an array of objects... or my favorite for politicians - a waste of time."

Neil Gaiman (surely he should know better?): "Am backstage at the fire festival. Things are flaming and festive."

These are from the Times Online article on the fifty most popular "celebs" on Twitter. Why on earth would anyone want to know these things?

Librarians, of course, are eager to get in on the act, as a way of publicising their activities, but I wonder how many people are likely to follow the thoughts of whoever is inputting the information from Little Hicksville Public Library? Perhaps this is all a sign that although technology has not led to the increase in leisure time that was anticipated fifty years ago, it has led to leisure time being incorporated into work time, since most of this stuff will be consumed when people are supposed to be working - just as e-mailing friends, Web searching, Facebook dwelling and even online gaming have been incorporated into work time. Now there's an interesting theory worth exploring - assuming that you could drag people away from their twittering long enough to interview them!