Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Twitter: I don't get it

I have seen several mentions of Twitter in blogposts, but kind of assumed it was something along the lines of Explode, which I have already joined and occasionally use (although more often than the stats on my blog-widget would indicate!) so I didn't pay it much attention. Then Vicki Davis prodded me to join, and since I have a great deal of respect for her, I thought I'd look into it.

I duly joined, and entered 5 updates. But I can't see what else a person is supposed to do there. I seem to have acquired a friend - possibly the person who is behind Twitter (I can't connect to it today to check, but his name seemed familiar). I can't see for the life of me how to connect with people I know who already part of the network. I can see how to invite new people to join, but that doesn't help. I have spent some time watching the barrage of random snippets of information that get broadcast. I have looked at the map to see where everyone is. All very interesting, but so far, I haven't actually found out how to have a conversation with anyone or enter into a meaningful exchange.

I was feeling somewhat inadequate, until I saw this from Stephen Downes today. Now I feel a bit better, but I still can't help wondering whether I'm missing the whole point somehow.

There is a song that opens with the line "There must be more than this..." That line very aptly describes my feelings as I sat staring uncomprehendingly at the screen as the world map swung back and forth and snippets of information flashed before my eyes. The very fact that there is so much traffic must mean that people are getting something out of the whole thing. I just don't get it!

Anyone care to enlighten me?


Harold Jarche said...

I made a similar comment, on the Internet Time Ning Network (one more) that I couldn't see much use in the variety of social networks that I belong to. I'm going to stick with them for a while and see what happens.

Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher said...

It is hard to "get it" until you find your "friends" -- just go to and add me, then on the right hand side, look at and add my friends that you want to follow -- I suggest teach42 (Steve Dembo), Jeff utecht, Julie Lindsay as starters. Then, just go in there about twice a day and twitter what you are doing and see what others are doing -- you'll learn so much! But it is powered by your friends -- so go over there and add me. It really is confusing until you learn how to add friends.

Put your mouse over the name and click on the person if you think you want to add them, then when on their page, if you want to be there, click add and they'll show up on your twitter page when you log in.

E-mail me offline if you still have trouble. Steve Dembo had to get me started and now I'm sold!

Rob Wall said...

The best comparison I can think of, Karyn, is that Twitter is to instant messaging the same way that mailing lists are to regular, one-to-one e-mail. Essentially it is broadcast instant messaging. Boris Mann writes more about that at

I like two things about twitter. The first is that I don't have to be part of the conversation to listen to the conversation (and it *does* have elements of conversation in the tweets). Second is that I still have the control over who I am listening to, a feature that I hope would prevent spammers.

I agree with Vicki - you need to give it a try to find out. I promise to be your friend if you do! (

Claudia Ceraso said...

The key to it is adding friends. Definitely. But do not expect to have conversations as you would in chat.

I once posted that I was looking for a tool and suddenly someone suggested a very good option, which saved me hours of search.

Here my own thoughts before joining Twitter:
This Twittering Life

Anonymous said...

Thanks for all the comments, folks. I have now made a few friends (some of whom have returned the favour), so we'll see where this takes me!