Lots of commentators are talking about Twitter now, with the Twitterverse growing. Like anything that started out as a minority interest, a ‘private joke made public’ (you know, all those cool shows you were into with your mates before everyone knew what they were, where the first two season are brilliant but then they get a budget with which to stuff up the third) there’s a danger that it may just turn to shit. But it’s still at the phase where Rove can do gags about it without quite knowing what it is (or perhaps pretending not to, for comedic effect; he appears to have two Twitter accounts parked, just in case it does turn into something to capture viewers with).
And Jon Stewart can do gags about it without quite knowing what it is (or pretending not to for comedic effect; although perhaps he truly isn’t into it – the corresponding Twitter account isn’t actually his).
With all manner of mainstream spokespeople taking about it, Twitter could become a bogan pastime if, say, single mums start spending the baby bonus on iPhones instead of plasma TVs – or it just could become boring and irrelevent if something better captures the audience. But like most things, it’s a little less cool once middle Australia thinks it knows about it. Like the shoes hanging over powerlines: it might have once indicated a dealer’s house, but by the time someone on ABC Local Radio tells you that’s the case, you’re not about to go hooning through suburbia looking for dangling trainers. The likelihood of a dealer within, nowadays, is even slimmer than the chance of there being an ABC Local Radio listener who is drug dependent but can’t get sorted.
Sorry, I’ve gone a bit off-topic here.
I started tweeting some time ago, introduced to it by the same person who encouraged me to start my blog, but stopped, figuring Facebook enabled me to update my status as often as I liked, and more besides, rendering Twitter unnecessary. Then, to be brutally honest, I noticed cool people who wouldn’t be caught dead being mistaken for techheads, along with fools and morons who originally eschewed social software, jump on the Twitter bandwagon after they’d heard people they actually respect talk about it. Or they paid for courses in online this-or-that at one of many ‘Fasttrack Your Media Career’ Enterprises P/L, where Twitter was pushed as part of the networking arsenal.
Not being a bandwagon jumper myself,1 I had a cautious look around and noticed that, since there were more people using it, it had become more interesting and far more useful a means of sharing ideas, even for a technoluddite like me. People I respected, like Stephen Fry, were pointing me in the direction of interesting stuff. Of course, I also find people pointing me in the direction of useless crud. The trick is to avoid useless crud and keep track of the interesting stuff. The other trick is to realise that how I define interesting stuff and useless crud most likely differs to the way virtually anyone else defines it. One thing I did find interesting was that a lot of people I knew and liked – in real life I mean – happened also to be using Twitter. So it made sense to be updating Facebook via Twitter, and keeping in touch with this new multitude of interesting thinkers (and doers) in the process.
People ask me what Twitter is and what it’s for. Even its creator admits users keep pointing out that it’s for different things. Different people use it in different ways to different degrees. I mostly use it the same way I mostly use Facebook: in an age where we have less personal contact, when I’m tied to my computer more and more (and no, I don’t have a computer-in-the-pocket like a Blackberry or iPhone; I can't afford one), Twitter helps keep my smart-arse-comment and quick-comeback muscles supple. I basically troll the site when having a break and banter as I would in the office if I still worked in an office where banter was welcome. And I use it to point out when I’ve updated my blog with a new post (a status update that automatically appears on Facebook, which also takes a feed from my blog; sadly despite this, the ol’ blog gets less hits in this age of everyone ‘blogging’ through MySpace, Facebook and Twitter).
But I haven’t explained what Twitter is, nor shall I. Some guys have prepared a YouTube clip that does the job just fine.
The quoteable quote of his speach is: “When you give people easier ways to share information, more good things happen.”
I’ll continue tweeting (or Twittering) whatever happens, but I have one strong reservation: last year’s Melbourne International Comedy Festival was the one that boasted, as the best show title, What Up Fags I Got No Material lol. In featured a multitude of comics who spoke of LOLing, ROFLing and LMAOing. So what? Festivals frequently feature a confluence of inspiration; ‘tribes’ of comedians often have a shared collective unconscious of material from whence jokes are drawn. One year it was monkey references. More recently it was SMS predictive text. I’ve mentioned before the Melbourne tribe that seem to share references to Weekend at Bernie’s, wooji boojing and a habbit of ‘fer shizzling’ their ‘nizzles’. But please don’t make this the year of Facebook and Twitter gags, unless the material can be amusing to all parties: the social software tragics, the day-trippers, and especially the people who have no idea at all.
- My clever mate Tony has pointed out that by blogging about Twitter, I have indeed jumped on a bandwagon – the one containing lots of commentators talking about Twitter.