Monday, 14 June 2010

Ah Twitter let me hate you in a thousand ways

WARNING: This is an untrammelled rant, delivered in the hopes that someone will MAKE me see the light. I just cannot find anything good in Twitter. I really don't think Twitter will remain long on the landscape, and I'm not sure we should be pandering to these mobile-device shackling tactics. Went to Emma Coonan's demo of Twitter in the UL a while ago with an open mind [well, not quite, more like arms-folded, 'Go on then, convince me'] and I'm afraid that didn't work. Poor Andy Priestner sounds almost despairing about trying to explain to unconverted oiks, and has made a great attempt to list its uses, and I'm sorry he's tried a gazillion times.

I'm still unconvinced [Sorry again]. Yes, the requirement to be concise and precise is a boon, but 140 characters reduce almost all of us to a level of brainlessness that is not appropriate. I look at my Twitter page with all its links and re-Tweets and I just .... loathe it. Don't know exactly why it is, but I have to force myself to read down, which is odd because presumably the idea of tweets being short is for people to find them attractive. This extremely adverse reaction is not provoked by the blog feeds, so it's not general info-overload. Perhaps it is because the need for brevity makes a lot of it appear almost meaningless white noise to non-cognoscenti. I don't want to learn another language. It's all back to a dark classroom, circa 1969, double Latin last thing on a Wednesday. 'Right everybody, Caesar's campaigns, page 43, let's crack on, there 600 to go. Crail, for pulling that face, construe until I tell you to stop' Mind goes blank, eyes cease to focus, bottom jaw hangs loose, begin to dribble.... Erm, does not loading it all up with links and shortening devices aka dodges and tweaks infer in a way it is already not really 100% working?

On a purely personal level Twitter can be used to communicate, but what can you say? Not much. Unless we want to know that [well known female singer] is bored or feels fat. Should she be sitting at a family lunch tweeting about how bored she is? Should we care about such stuff? Have we nothing better to do than semi-stalk Z-listers? [And if we want to look at Demi Moore's ass, we still have to follow a link elsewhere]. Segueing on from that, we get Derek Simpson telling the world what was going on in the BA/Unite negotiations when as a senior official he should have been participating, or at least paying attention. Twitter made it easy for him to do something totally out of order, and, by the by, to commit another Twitter sin [in my opinion], the 'Am in a meeting/am on a course' tweet - what's the point in telling us that?

At the other end of the spectrum, should I put a 'Follow the library on Twitter' button on the website? 'The UL is open until 10 pm tonight'. Fine - there could be a point, but not for where I work. 'Have just been to an interesting demo of Mendeley'? Darling, they don't CARE - regurgitate it later when they want to know. Tip of the day? In 140 characters? Are you joking? And I'm afraid I can see one student leaning over another student's shoulder and saying 'The LIBRARY!!?? That's a joke, right?'

So we get to the middle ground, where a chink of light briefly hit the retina - the professional/personal interface. The useful tips, links. Fine, great, sometimes helpful, but again - is Twitter really the best forum/format for mutual help?? A blog can be a windbag's delight, and Miss Crail found herself sucked into that quagmire last week [and right now too of course], but we are getting thoughtful, useful insights [from people other than Miss Crail] regarding the Cam23 tasks. Twitter's just an annoying waspy buzz, another thing that makes us sit on our little isolated desert islands, its format actually militating against reaching out to non-believers [part of what we try to do, eh?]. The name flippin' well says it all.

Gawd, I hope I'm not the only person on the programme/in the world who thinks this way. Maybe I'm certifiable....? Please, Andy, don't throw me off the programme


  1. That's exactly how I felt about Twitter first time round, and how I still felt until I started using JournoTwit. Now my feeds are displayed in nice, sensible columns with the hashtags I'm following separated nicely, with a column just for where I'm mentioned, and with a pretty feed cloud that I don't actually use much. I unfollow anyone who tells me too much about their mealtimes and transport arrangements, and use it mostly for following CPD-related topics. I have been converted.

    I hate Twitter as it's set out on its own site - but with a decent reader it's actually very useful!

  2. "I hate Twitter as it's set out on its own site - but with a decent reader it's actually very useful!"

    Haven't I been minded to think exactly the same thing today.

    Not sure if any of the readers available mitigates my pet Twitter hate though - seeing isolated bits of a conversation where one or more of the participants you don't know or follow.

  3. Ah, but JournoTwit does! See my post for more info :D

  4. Marshall McLuhan is doing a bit of a dance over this... (and I hope nobody pulls a Woody Allen here)


  5. That's a really interesting (and appropriate) article - didn't have time to look at the YouTube video yet though...

  6. "...does not loading it all up with links and shortening devices aka dodges and tweaks infer in a way it is already not really 100% working?"

    No, I don't think so. You might as well say that putting panniers on a bike proved the bike wasn't working.

  7. Right! Miss Crail is vindicated! See Diana's comments on 'These are a few of my favourite things' about who is looking at UL tweets. Seriously, though, there's a market/medium mismatch here

  8. Anyone know how to link the JournoTwit thing to the IGoogle page? Can't find a gadget so far. You're right, NPage, it's much more manageable with JournoTwit - I've signed up and will give it a try

  9. I won't throw you off the programme just yet Miss Crail! I apologise if my Twitter blog post implied that I was trying to persuade 'unconverted oiks' to give it a go. I was tired and desperately trying to write up and queue my blog posts before I went on hol so that I wouldn't have a hard time catching up with Cam23 on my return. I am now returned (and fear not I queued tweets as well - I wasn't really tweeting from Crete).

    I realise Twitter isn't for everyone, but I do get frustrated when its rejected for the wrong reasons. Yes it can be used to communicate with users, but I just see that as another of the many marketing channels now open to us (and I do believe we need to exploit each and every one), the main benefit of Twitter just has to be the contact with other librarians - the alerting to current debates, the flagging up of blog posts, the networking - which all add up to making me so much more professionally engaged, knowledgeable and on the ball and the users of my library unquestionably benefit as a result of this. I think my earlier post perhaps got this point across better than my more recent one.

    Also just to say that you misread my choice of blog title - its not that I've personally tried to persuade people a gazillion times, but rather that my blog post on Twitter benefits is the gazillionth one out there written by a librarian on this subject. I still hold that its advantages are phenomenally useful and (to me anyway) self-evident.