January 16, 2008

Can We Talk About Twitter for a Second?

About a year ago, I wrote how I had completely sworn off instant messaging, and how, despite its fast-rising user base, I had no intention of using Twitter. And so far, I haven't given in to the siren song. While I hadn't expected to ever gain a Facebook account, and eventually succumbed, Twitter has remained on my personal "Do Not Call" list.

Meanwhile, as I remain a Twitter luddite, others swear by it. I find myself occasionally checking in on the Twitter streams of friends and others like Allen Stern, MG Siegler, Steven Hodson and Robert Scoble. I see quick conversations they have with Mark "Rizzn" Hopkins and Hugh MacLoed and Jason Calacanis, as they share ideas, comment on the news of the day, and spam each other with the latest blog URLs. I see them Twittering from my FriendFeed and on my Spokeo.

Yet as far as Twitter is concerned, I don't exist. I'm not part of the conversation. Do I need to be? Or can I remain, as MG Siegler called me, an "Anti-Twittite"?

Last night, I wanted to write to Mark Hopkins at Mashable in response to an article he'd posted. But, without his e-mail or cell phone, the only way I could get through to him was through a public comment on his blog. I could have used Twitter... in theory, but then, I'd have to sign up just for that one off, and I expect it'd be a slippery slope before I started adding everybody I knew to follow, and began measuring my self worth in the numbers of people I followed or followed me on Twitter. Not good.

So I was this close to finally giving in and signing up, just like I gave in on Facebook. Just like I gave in on getting a Nintendo Wii after listing it in my Ten Geeky Technologies Not Coming to Our House post back in March of 2007, along with Del.icio.us and Flickr. But I didn't give in. This time. For I believe, outside of the occasional focused conversation, Twitter remains a noisy, ineffective tool for typical communication.

So... for those of you who swear by it. Tell me why I'm wrong. Please. Tell me how you use Twitter, and why I should join you. I'm listening.