Thursday, August 02, 2007

Why Twitter?

A couple of times this week I have encountered references to a new "social community" called Twitter. I see it is even on the board for discussion at the Educause ELI conference in San Antonio in January. So I decided I better go up and see what all the fuss is about.

Perhaps I'm not seeing the big picture here, but it looks like Twitter is designed for those people who must give everyone around them a blow by blow account of their life whether we're interested or not. It reminds me of people with cell phones stuck to their ears in restaurants and grocery stores describing the latest produce to anyone in their calling circle that will listen.

Twitter says its like a mini-blog (posts are limited to 140 characters) but looking at the statements being shared by users of Twitter, I'd have to say I've got better things to do with my time than try to plow through all that drivel looking for something that I may find interesting or useful. Maybe people who have scanners to monitor police and emergency services communications would love it. I see the LA Fire Department posts their response calls to a Twitter account.

I went up and read the official Twitter blog to try to identify the element that would make their service useful or compelling and I'm still at a loss for grasping the potential of their idea. Furthermore, I notice that they attracted venture capital but for the life of me I don't know how they could make a "venture capital level" of ROI with no discernible business model.

I must not be alone in my assessment of Twitter's potential. The Wall Street Journal wrote, "These social-networking services elicit mixed feelings in the technology-savvy people who have been their early adopters. Fans say they are a good way to keep in touch with busy friends. But some users are starting to feel 'too' connected, as they grapple with check-in messages at odd hours, higher cellphone bills and the need to tell acquaintances to stop announcing what they're having for dinner."[3]
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