Friday, March 20, 2009

I'd like to take a moment to whine about all your whining. Thank you.

I feel like much ado has been made lately about Twitter. I shouldn't even tell you that Twitter is a micro-blogging service, and instead imply that if you don't know what it is, you live under a rock and should be ashamed of yourself. But the truth is, if you don't know or care what micro-blogging is, I would much rather you didn't know about it, because then you couldn't possibly complain about its existence.

I've been using Twitter for awhile now (not sure about how long, but long enough to have posted 328 updates...) When I first learned about it, I didn't get it either. It seemed silly to me that I would want to post/read status updates all day. So, for awhile, because I thought it was stupid, I just didn't use it. Imagine that. And then at some point I gave it a try, and believe it or not, I managed to find some value in it. I subscribed to the updates of other librarians, and they posted links to interesting things: articles, videos, websites, etc... and that was cool. Plus it created a network of people in my field who could be tapped for impromptu surveys (who's using what technology and how successful has it been?) Sure, there's some lots of "getting my morning coffee"/banal chatter too, but you learn to filter out the noise after awhile.

Recently I also started up a Twitter account for my library (, and on there I (we) can subscribe to all sorts of science, technology and engineering people and organizations, so I get fed all kinds of great sources in that area. I can also use that account to broadcast (retweet) those links as well as interesting ones I've found myself. I can also use it as a quick way to post brief communications about the library (see: stapler crisis '09) that don't warrant a blog post or website announcement.

Right. So all I'm saying is that I have found some value in the service. I'm not an evangelist for it though (as I matter of fact I don't even recommend it to people unless I think it would serve a specific purpose for them) because I realize that to a lot of people it just doesn't make any sense. And that's fine. But I feel like the haters reeeeeeally enjoy hating on this one (check out this video, which, I have to admit is kind of funny, but also pretty insulting.)

Still, web 2.0, or whatever you crazy kids are calling it these days, is all about trying new things, and if you don't like them, or see a purpose for them, you don't have to use them. I just don't quite understand the culture of tearing down things we don't understand, or don't think we need. It's so damn hipster if you ask me... Anything mainstream is evil and stupid.

Still, I find Twitter to pretty much be what you make of it. If you and your friends use it as a way to just keep track of what you're all up to, then those "mundane" updates can actually be a way to get more insight into each other's lives, and to effortlessly "keep up" with each other (and also make the whole thing look kind of stupid if you're basing your opinion on the updates of people you don't know or care about.) If you use it in a more professional context, it's actually a wonderful way of communicating amongst colleagues and peers, and a great way to tap into a potentially extremely useful collective mind. (I also thought this was another interesting take on what's so cool about Twitter, found, fittingly, via a tweet from Connie Crosby.)

(UPDATE: I just wanted to add this link to a recent ReadWriteWeb post on Twitter, that elaborates on the potential of Twitter way better than I did here...)

(UPDATE 2: Ok, and here's another good link: The Ultimate Guide for Everything Twitter)