Sunday, April 28, 2013

I was wrong about Twitter

I signed up for the microblogging service Twitter four years ago.
On April 22, 2009, I tweeted, “Signing up with Twitter to see what all the fuss is about.”
I couldn’t understand why so many people were raving about Twitter.
Of course, in those days, Twitter was a lot more superficial than it is now. Back then, it was more a platform for people to reveal the everyday aspects of their life, letting people know where they are and what they’re doing.
That’s still a big part of Twitter, but the service has become more of a mainstream news feed over the past few years. It also has been accepted by media, public figures and advertisers, who use it to their advantage. Twitter celebrated seven years in business in March.
Before I signed up for Twitter and even for some time afterward, I would joke about the service. I thought it was a lot of pointless blather in 140-character bursts. It didn’t think the service had legs.
I was wrong.
But today’s service is greatly improved from the one I joined four years ago. Many of my early complaints (such as the difficulty of following conversations on Twitter) have been addressed. Flaws (such as frequent service outages) have been fixed. The quality of information on the service also has improved immensely as media organizations, public figures and prominent analysts and pundits have joined it.
I didn’t see the utility of Twitter early on. But I’m addicted to it now. I use Twitter to follow technology, media and entertainment news services, as well as analysts and colleagues. Twitter is a modern RSS service where news organizations share headlines (and sometimes story summaries) along with weblinks to their articles and videos.
I don’t post very many tweets on Twitter myself, mostly weblinks to my articles on Investors.com. (Sorry, I know that’s self-promotional.) Occasionally I’ll make a pithy comment or post a photo though.
I still get the feeling that Twitter is used mostly by a hardcore group of fans and that the general public isn’t really interested in it. The service has more than 200 million active users and a large portion of them post little if anything, The Next Web reports. They’re like me and use it mostly for the news stream.
So after four years, I’m happy to say that I finally “get” Twitter.

Photos: Social media propaganda-style poster for Twitter by artist Aaron Wood (top) and my first tweet.


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