Twitter is not Facebook, let’s keep it that way.

I’ve been enjoying Twitter for quite a while now.

Despite all the blather out there about it being a self indulgent waste of time, I think it’s become pretty clear to anyone open minded enough to actually wake up and smell the coffee that it’s a communications medium like any other, but one that lends itself to the dynamic, fast paced nature of the modern world we live in. I personally find Twitter useful on a number of levels, but first and foremost as a tool for the dispersal of technical information to interested parties.

For instance I follow Guillaume Laforge, one of the designers of the Groovy programming language to see what’s up with new releases of his software, what he’s up to, etc. I’m also following a number of members of the Windows PowerShell development team at Microsoft to get the inside scoop on that awesome tool.

I also follow Amanda Palmer, lead vocalist for The Dresden Dolls, several authors, and a smattering of friends who’ve also been turned on to Twitter, as well as some feeds around hobbies and interests of mine – the Corel Painter community has an incredibly vibrant Twitter presence.

My point here is that Twitter may have originally been about what people are eating for lunch today, or that the train is late in coming and they’re stuck next to a guy who smells on the platform, but like most things it has evolved and become something much more than the designers originally intended.

There is this rather useful convention in the Twitter world called hash tags – things like #powershell or #groovy or #redsox – these let people with particular interests ‘tune in’ on related tweets whether or not they’re already following a person.

In the last week however I’ve begun to see a trend I really do not like. Tags like #spymaster are being used by people playing games that use Twitter and your followers as the medium.

This clutters up my Twitter feed, but more to the point, makes Twitter much less usable and interesting for those who don’t have and/or don’t want to need fancy clients that can filter out certain tags so they won’t be bothered by them.

I like Facebook, it’s been a fantastic way for me to get back in touch with a bunch of people I am really psyched to be in contact with again, but as anyone with a lot of Facebook friends and not a lot of time knows, the silly games and apps can get quite chatty and really annoying awfully quick.

I’m not saying anyone’s doing anything wrong here – some of the apps are fun and a couple are even useful or enlightening, but when you log in and see 120 Little Green Plant requests, 50 Snowball requests, 40 Mixed Drink requests, and 300 ‘Other’ requests, it gets real old, real fast ๐Ÿ™‚

So that’s my take on the matter. Let’s keep Twitter as much signal as we can, lest the noise overtake us and leave us drowning in its wake.

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2 thoughts on “Twitter is not Facebook, let’s keep it that way.

  1. I know some folks who use Facebook only for the games. ๐Ÿ™‚

    I’ve been playing around with Plurk (http://www.plurk.com) a bit lately, and it’s fun, but not many people use it (and I haven’t found any publicly well-known folks there as yet to follow- they’re all using Twitter).

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  2. Cool. Plurk looks neat, but part of what makes Twitter useful is its universality.

    Exactly as you said, part of what motivates me to use it is the fact that, while I’m getting updates from my friends about what they’re eating for lunch today, I’m also getting updates from some truly hardcore geeks around the world about whatever’s on their mind at the moment, and that’s priceless.

    Part of what motivated me to write this article is that Facebook has explicit provisions for turning *off* all the game spam, and selectively filtering out what you have zero interest in.

    While hash tags in Twitter do kinda sorta not really the same thing, they’re far less efficient and all encompassing, and I find it annoying to essentially force people to use clients that have filtering just to hide what I see as nothing but noise.

    So by all means, have fun throwing snowballs, planting little green thingamabobs, and sending drinks to your friends, just do it on Facebook where I can patently ignore it if I want ๐Ÿ™‚

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