That's the title I sent in. Let's see of M-land goes with it. This article originally appeared in the 6.14.12 issue of Metrolan
Twitter. They don’t really compete, but
I’ve always thought about them in competitive terms, probably because of how
they compete for my time.
A year or
so ago one of my favorite people said I was the most “successful” Facebook
poster she’d ever seen. I’d never
thought about FB in terms of success or failure, although there is a certain
charge to posting some stupid photograph and racking up 40+ “likes”. Facebook is just a natural extension of how
I’ve used the internet from the beginning—for sharing weird stuff with friends.
My first big haul was in 1995 when I
stumbled on to a Russian dating site that featured women who were missing a
limb. Page after page of attractive
women, dressed nicely and looking demure, but lacking something in the arm or
leg department. Under each picture was
caption that simply gave a first name and a weight; “Svetlana, 150 kg.” I was astonished and immediately emailed the
link to everyone on my small but growing email list. About 15 minutes later my brother emailed me
back “how many pounds is 150 kg?” That
was it. I was hooked.
when something suitably odd or inexplicable passed by, I’d grab it and forward
it on to whomever I thought would get a charge out of it. Then a few years ago I signed on to Facebook,
mainly because it was exploding on college campuses and being written about in
the IP trades as some kind of phenomenon.
It sounded kind of dumb and useless, but I figured it was my
professional obligation to at least be familiar with this social media
thing. I got sucked in immediately, and
the rest is history. Instead of combing
through my email list to figure out who should get what, I hit one button and
everybody gets it. This does mean a
little oversharing, but that’s OK. People can, and do, comment, then comment on
comments, etc. It’s brilliant. Friend me.
who mentioned my “success” on Facebook she added that I really should be on
Twitter, which she said would be better for me professionally. I’ve never warmed up to Twitter, which is
probably a good thing. I don’t need to
spend more time, OK, make that waste
more time, on the web “communicating” with “friends”.
FB for a number of reasons; a big one is the visual aspect. You can post pictures and videos to FB; with
Twitter all you can do is post those butt-ugly little mini-link things. In FB you can write sentences, paragraphs,
use big adjectives, proper punctuation, etc.
Twitter’s 140 character limit forces a cribbed sort of unattractive non-language
lacking of style or elegance, and with the unsightly overuse of @’s and
#’s. Facebook, even with its maddening
aspects (which I bitch about here now and then) is more entertaining and infinitely
more esthetically appealing. Twitter’s
also vaguely creepy. As a general
matter, I’d rather have “friends” I don’t know than somebody I don’t know
I see that
in the three years I’ve had a Twitter account, I’ve posted all of 60
tweets. The vast majority of those were
at a Future of Music conference a few years ago where I was conversing with
other conferees. Twitter’s great for
that real-time stuff and that’s what I use it for. When big news is breaking I go to
Twitter. I’ll find feeds (or strings,
or threads, or whatever the hell they’re called) close to the source (and I
always find them) and basically watch the news unfold. If there’s a natural disaster, a riot, an
uprising, a protest, the best place to learn what’s happening right now
is on Twitter.
apparently Twitter’s about to capitalize on this. It was announced this week that Twitter is
adding editorial staff whose job it will be to make it easier for passive users
to zero in a topic or an event. This
is one brilliant move, and should reduce the often frustrating stumbling around
that’s involved finding the relevant Twitter feeds for real time events.
be yet another nail in the coffin for traditional news media. If you can watch the news as it happens, you
don’t need to have somebody else tell you about it the next day. When everybody’s a potential reporter, then
there’s no longer going to be much of a need for professional reporters. The action’s going to be in curating,
filtering, and interpreting. And if
they’re not teaching that in J-school already, they’d better start.
Paul Rapp is an
intellectual property attorney who leads a hermit-like life in the Berkshire Mountains,
and whose Twitter name is paulrappdotcom.
Don’t bother following him because he isn’t going anywhere.