Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Twitter - Is It Useful?

I've been seeing loads of references to social networking/microblogging site Twitter for ages and finally signed up this lunchtime to see what it had to offer.

I'm not entirely sure how much use I'll get out of it (or it out of me) as it seems to focus on individuals with lots of friends. It also requires a lot of input to get the best out of it, assuming anyone's actually following your twittering, and do you really want to microblog your life?

Where it seems to fail, in my opinion, is the lack of any search facilities. I mean how can you use it to meet new people or reply to topics of interest if you can't actually find any of them? You can add people to your ring of friends by letting it search for existing users from your e-mail account contacts or you can just send someone an invite if you already know their address but that's it unless you choose to "follow" someone.

There's a Public Timeline so you can follow public posts for a bit but you need to subscribe to the RSS feed to get much more than a few entries and those whizz by very rapidly. Searching can be accomplished, in a fairly restrictive way if you ask me, using Twitter's new tracking feature, where you can track any word or concept on Twitter, and have the updates sent to your phone or IM. Why not on your web account? I don't use IM services and have no desire to give them my mobile number so they can fire lots of texts at me at my expense.

If I can't find anyone or anything on Twitter, then how would anyone find me or my posts? I'll give it a few weeks to see if it's any use so, if you're a Twitter user, then you can follow me on


Barry Dahl said...

Hi Alan,
I subscribe to your blog and find that we have many similar interests (except for that Mac thing).

I use Twitter, but am not a power user. I'll start following you because trust me, it's virtually worthless if no one is seeing your tweets.

I have between 15-20 followers and I follow about the same number - that's rather low compared to many I know. Still, I don't want to have several hundred that I follow - it's more about quality than quantity for me.

Here's my Twitter page.

Cheers, Barry

Sam said...

Many are surprised by the lack of a built-in search in Twitter. I use Tweet Scan. Several desktop clients incorporate search, as well -- at least some of them use Tweet Scan.

Having pushed the number of people I follow to over 100, I agree with Barry: a smaller number is easier to manage and helps maintain a sense of ambient intimacy. I felt comfortable at 50 and may well trim it back.

Allan Ogg said...

Thanks for the intro Barry. The quality thing is what'll sell it for me. I read more than enough blogs without having to wade through reams of inane chatter.

Tweet Scan does indeed look useful Sam and searching Twitter easily makes it a definitely plus addon service.