Chris McKitterick (mckitterick) wrote,
Chris McKitterick

Twitter usability question

Do you use Twitter? I'd like to know why. Seriously - I'm not being a smart-ass!

I mean, I check in every week or two to read Conan O'Brien's posts, see what the Onion has to say, and so forth, but even after years of being on the service, I have yet to uncover its utility as a communication tool.

For example, I could see it being useful if users got emails notifying us that someone responded to a post (or @ed at me), but as-is, the only way to have meaningful conversation on Twitter is to leave it on constantly and not "follow" very many people. Also, there's no threading, so how does someone know a conversation is going on unless they're following everyone who's a part of every conversation? And how does one figure out WTF is going on when visiting, say, a friend's Twitter page and seeing a bunch of random @thises and @thats?

Facebook feels like it actually does what Twitter was intended to do, in that you make short comments or post photos or links and people can respond to them right there in context. Took me a while to find FB's utility and warm to it, but now I see how it's a very handy tool - especially in how it simplifies communication to many and enables users to do things that would be challenging if they don't know HTML and don't want to mess around with technical stuff. On the other hand, FB limits posts to 420 characters, so posts are by definition not very complex - and Twitter only allows 120. Barely enough to write a complete sentence.

So Twitter consists of a cacophony of lonely little shouts - tweets, as from a bird sitting on a telephone wire hoping to get someone's attention, hoping usually in vain to find someone to sit on the wire with them and tweet in unison at the uncaring world around them.

Am I missing something, or is Twitter just a site for people to peep randomly into the lonely and vast Webiverse?

Tags: it

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