Twitter is Dead, Long Live Twitter
Julian Sanchez notes that the rise of Twitter as a hot tool for political communication has killed Twitter the social networking service.
After resisting for a while, I finally signed up for Twitter a little over a year ago because it became clear that it was no longer socially optional: My friends were coordinating via Twitter rather than sending around e-mails about when and where to grab a few drinks or see a movie. In recent months, as Twitter has exploded as a medium for other kinds of communication, I notice that I seem to be using it less for that original coordinating feature. And a moment of reflection suggests why. Even if you protect your feed, and maintain separate social and professional accounts, there are going to be people in your social world from whom you can’t politely refuse a follow request. Now, the first 20 or so people I had following me on Twitter were more or less coextensive with the group of people I most often see socially, and basically all people I’m perfectly happy to have show up if I announce that I’m out for a beer at such-and-such a place. But let’s face it, there are really only so many friends and acquaintances most of us feel that way about, and so as a service like this is more widely adopted, there are invariably more and more people on that follow list who, while you may like them well enough, you don’t necessarily want to implicitly invite along every time you make plans.
Indeed, I’ve seen prominent Twitterati post tweets complaining about people they’re following cluttering their stream with the details of their personal lives. That this was the whole point of the service seems to have escaped them.
Then again, I signed up for Twitter a couple years ago and quickly got bored with it because it was mostly banal social interaction. I now find it marginally useful as an information gathering and networking source, albeit one with a higher noise to signal ratio than I’d prefer.