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!


  1. At least my comments are out in the open - not hidden under the label of "Anonymous"

  2. Absolutely astonishing in so many ways. Your dismissal of 'so-called "Web 2.0" developments' as time wasting to start with. I wonder what you've tried, and for how long. I use a multiplicity of resources which I suppose come under that banner and they save me a lot of time and make my day more effective, but maybe I'm just using them correctly? That you seem to think you can use Facebook for a few days and find nothing of interest flies in the face of the many librarians, libraries and universities that use it for many different purposes.

    Are you seriously trying to criticise Twitter as an information resource without trying it and simply looking at a few 'celebrities' who use it? I'm highly amused by your faux ignorance of Ms Spears. You either DO know who she is and seem to think it demonstrates something about you by pretending you don't, or you're so far removed from popular culture to be dangerous.

    I'm interested in what Little Hicksville does on Twitter, in the same way that I'm interested in what libraries to do promote themselves in other areas. The vast majority of the people that I follow on Twitter are libraians, publishers, libraries and so on, and they're a rich source of information, advice, current news and more.

    That you don't use Twitter is of course entirely up to you, but to glibly dismiss it based on a single article without having tried it, AND coming from someone who would appear to espouse 'information research' is quite frankly laughable and does your reputation no good at all.

  3. I think Tom's trying to be deliberately provocative - if so, Phil's posting signals success
    (Phil, I agree with some of your points but you'd do well to declare your stake in Web 2.0).

    I have accounts in Facebook and Twitter. The former I use ocassionally, the latter I find utterly pointless. The only thing that keeps me in Facebook is the networking, but this is *despite* it's woeful design and chaotic functionality. It's 100% network effect, with no value intrinsic to the functionality of the site - the day another site becomes fashionable and draws my crowd away, I'll be sure to follow them. Meanwhile, email remains the backbone of my networks. And all the invitations to 'drinks' or 'games' tend to come from people at the margins of my circle, and get duly ignored. My choice, I know - I'd not dream of imposing it on others.

    As for Britney Spears, I know there is one, but don't give me the 'popular culture' stuff.

  4. See also: http://www.economist.com/research/articlesBySubject/displayStory.cfm?story_id=14098313&subjectID=526352&fsrc=nwl

  5. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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