Are you Content not to Contend with Content?

robinHad a conversation with a colleague about Twitter today. She was claiming that you can’t say anything worthwhile in 140 characters, a suggestion made by many that I’ve tried to explain the popular microblog to. I’d argue it depends what you’re trying to say and why.

In casual conversation, ideas flow easily; often so little is said that many sentences remain incomplete, superceded by understanding as the speakers move swiftly on. Twitter is a bit like this.By contrast, official discourse may succumb to bloating formalities and artifice. I know that my favourite work emails are those whose tone more closely resembles what you’d expect from an IM. Sometimes, there’s a lot of info to get across and more structure is required- here lies the distinction between documents and conversations.

Blogs can broadly fall into either category but in the case of microblogs like Twitter, the closest you are likely to get is the conversational equivalent of a greeting accompanied by a bit.ly link to the ‘document’. If executed properly, the relationship may be mutually beneficial and symbiotic – the conversation often continues within the blog’s comments section or via various retweets down the line.

On a side note, among the reasons that I enjoy Twitter lies one particular motivation which I haven’t seen mentioned much. Twitter is a game and one that not many people have figured out yet. The rules are still forming and the extent of its benefits are yet to be discovered. That’s a bit exciting.

So, for people in my situation, I think there are a couple of important things to remember.

If you aren’t contending then you never know what potential is being squandered and if you can’t supply interesting content on a regular basis than that’s one challenge you seriously need to embrace. It’s not always an easy exercise but one that can only end with you broadening the skills you have to offer.

- Max Tatton-Brown

June 23rd, 2009

  • Wayne Smallman

    Twitter is neither micro-blogging or IM. Pownce was a micro-blog. Twitter is a status update tool, with a smaller character allowance than the status update feature on Facebook.

    Twitter gets by not because it's good in any way, because it's not, it's a weak, insubstantial service that poorly implemented and managed.

    Twitter survives because of its network of users who seem to have bent it all out of shape to try and make it do things services like Pownce did by default.

    Now, I might sound like a complete hypocrite, given how much I use Twitter myself, where it not for the fact that enough people use public transport and aren't happy with where that's taking them, either.

    Twitter isn't the last word. It's a step in the direction of something else, certainly better than what we have now.

  • Hedgie

    Excellent points made by yourself and Wayne above – twitter is doing something big, and we are still in the process of working out what. And I must say, even someone as technologically challenged as me felt that twitter the site was pretty basic – seriously undercoded – when I signed up. It feels like it's held together metaphorically with sticky tape.

    As an information junkie I get high on the random apparent chaos and speed of info transfer on twitter.

    It's a left-brain/right-brain thing: Google is left-brain – you ask your question and you get your hierarchy of links. With twitter, you make lots of connections with people who may share some of your interests – they post links to stuff you may have missed or not have known about: instead of a static one-off list you get something organic and evolving over time. It's like being in a fantastically stocked bookshop and browsing, you get these beautiful serendipitous connections. But you can search successfully for specifics as well.

    News-wise I heard about Air France 447 on twitter first; the death of Michael Jackson; the Iranian election . . . and yesterday the Australian tsunami warning just 4 minutes after it was issued.