The granular appeal of Twitter

Wired magazine has a great feature about Twitter.

Writer Clive Thompson explains what Twitter is, why it appeals to so many people and how he thinks a microblogging tool like Twitter may influence future software development.

Much of that has been written already in other mainstream media and blog posts. What I found really interesting in Thompson’s article is this:

[…] When I see that my friend Misha is “waiting at Genius Bar to send my MacBook to the shop,” that’s not much information. But when I get such granular updates every day for a month, I know a lot more about her. And when my four closest friends and worldmates send me dozens of updates a week for five months, I begin to develop an almost telepathic awareness of the people most important to me.

[…] It’s almost like ESP, which can be incredibly useful when applied to your work life. You know who’s overloaded — better not bug Amanda today — and who’s on a roll. A buddy list isn’t just a vehicle to chat with friends but a way to sense their presence. Are they available to talk? Have they been away? This awareness is crucial when colleagues are spread around the office, the country, or the world. Twitter substitutes for the glances and conversations we had before we became a nation of satellite employees.

That’s exactly it. That’s how I see the value of Twitter and Jaiku, the other such tool I use.

Naturally, I found out about the Wired story on Twitter, in a tweet from Marco Derksen.

Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

  1. Jim Long

    Something as simple as Twitter has proven time and again, its ability to facilitate real human connection across time and geography. That’s the value proposition of social media, not feature sets touted by competitors. I care about what my Twitter friends are doing and they care about me.

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  3. Kevin Dugan

    Neville – Initially, Twitter detractors wondered aloud why anyone would want to know what they had for breakfast. The felt it was minutae and more noise for the channel.

    But as I do not travel as much as I’d like to conferences, Twitter has been all the more valuable. I cannot augment my online relationships with offline meetings as much as I would like. Twitter’s helped me increase the level of communication between several colleagues.

  4. Sam Grant

    Clive Thompson has expressed the almost-inexpressible about Twitter. It’s another fantastic application that is magnifying the human ‘voice’.

    Whether used as a live news-feed, to connect with friends or new associates, to express thoughts and ideas, get questions answered, invite participation in online collaboration or surveys, share in huge global events such as Live Earth – Twitter is becoming increasingly valuable.

    It’s all this and more – and it’s value only becomes apparent when you are a regular user.

  5. neville

    I hear that a lot, too, Kevin. Some people just don’t see any value at all in something like Twitter.

    It’s not for everyone, undoubtedly. As blogging isn’t. Or podcasting, or any other social medium. But I do think it does enable valuable connections and insights, just as Thompson illustrates. The value proposition, as Jim notes.

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