On Twitter

When I first heard about Twitter I thought it sounded like a waste of time, but was intrigued by the reports I had read from JP Rangaswami, Meg Pickard and Robert Scoble.

The people I’m in regular contact with haven’t yet signed up, so I started by trying out the BBC News feed provided by http://twitterfeed.com. Twitter limits you to 250 messages per week in the UK, and I wonder how long it will be before it starts trying to squeeze more revenue out of users.

Russell Beattie observes that Twitter’s design helps to prevent spamming or trolls, but “if I am an idiot, I only get to bother those people who are stupid enough to follow me”. This seems to be partially true, because you can also “reply” to the most recent message from someone you follow (even if they don’t follow you).

Last week I thought I’d add some of the people I’ve heard speak at conferences, or on podcasts, as I’m interested in what they have to say. I notice that some have chosen to make their updates protected … whether this is to stop others messaging them, or because they don’t consider their updates for public consumption isn’t clear.

There seem to be a number of ways people use the service:

  1. Self-promotion
  2. Sharing information (micro-blogging, or e.g. a particular view of the world)
  3. Updating existing friends on what they are doing
  4. Experimentation
  5. Taking part, with a view to understand it better

The information sharing and experimentation works better for me than “I’m eating lunch”. Dave Winer’s coverage of Twitter vs Pownce (also on TWiT), and the Democratic candidate nominations was also useful.

I should have been more selective on whom I followed because on Tuesday this tweet appear in my IM window:

Since this happens to be quite similar to my bio, and I’ve never met Matt, I felt this was slightly out of order. Matt’s personal situation is rather different to mine, so I’m not sure why he feels qualified to pass judgement. I suspect it is partly that the profile he currently enjoys has gone to his head.

Matt, if you feel the need to indulge in grandstanding rather than having the balls to share your opinions with the recipient directly, then ask yourself as CTO what image you’re projecting for yourself and your company.

I have updated my list to include those that I know a little better, and all is well. Now I need to get more of my friends and colleagues signed up.

Update: Marshall Kirkpatrick has some good advice  on getting the most from Twitter (via Mike Butcher).

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