The UX of Twitter (part 1)

At work, I had noticed that there was s0me activity on Twitter around the product.  In other words (for my mom), people were publically saying things about Marketo, some good and some bad.  I joined twitter to see what the hubbub was.  I now have  Twitter account with actual tweets.  Gee, that makes me feel kinda geeky.

So now, I have my linkedIn account, which I keep up to date.  I am picky about who I link to.  I want to KNOW these people, not just met them once.  I have a facebook account, but I barely pay any attention to it.  I just don’t have the time.  This twitter thing is easier because it’s hooked into Trillian Astra, which is convenient.  It’s just like blogging, except with just a phrase.  It’s actually pretty restricting.  I can’t think in such a small amount of space.

Anyway, I was thinking about Twitter at the party tonight.  The house was filled with a hundred people.  It was loud and crowded.  My dad would have loved it. (Sarcasm).  I was thinking that Twitter allows all this personal information to be passed at the speed of light to “followers”.  My concern is that this information is not human communication.  It’s just wierd to me.  It’s clinical.  Sort of like looking at someone’s bathroom cabinet to find the medicines they take.

Are we, as a civilization adding hundreds of ways to communicate information and ending up alienating us further?

This is a half-baked thought, but something is just rubbing me the wrong way about it.

I will followup another time with my feelings on the user experience, but this is just a start.  In a nutshell, its freaking me out.

2 Replies to “The UX of Twitter (part 1)”

  1. Big Twitter fan here.

    One of the fascinating and sticky things about Twitter is how many ways different people can use a very simple tool. I use it as part micro-blog, part a way of staying in touch with people, part news gathering tool and part customer communication channel (you’d be surprised how many of the customers I work with have figured out that sending me a DM on Twitter gets a faster response than sending me an e-mail). Other people use it in completely different ways. There’s no one right way.

    Like most “social” software, it gets better when you’re plugged into a network. Once you get past a certain volume in your follower / following list, Twitter goes from being an interesting curiosity to an extremely useful tool.

    Check out TweetDeck if you want to use it for following references to Marketo and competitors on Twitter.

  2. I don’t use twitter, but I don’t think it represents is a good trend in society.   Look at what has be happening in term of personal communications, from talking to people in person, to personal emails, to mass emails, to in-depth blogs, to trivial twitter-esk comments.  Are we replacing friends with a “network”.  Will this lead to a decay in our ability so socialize in person?  Is that good or bad? 

    It has been 99 years since E.M. Forster wrote “The Machine Stops”, which describes a society in which there is no personal anymore, everyone is independent, but connected through a “network” a “machine”.  You can actually read the full text of this classic short story at http://brighton.ncsa.uiuc.edu/prajlich/forster.html.    Is this what we want?  Is this were email, IM, and twitter are leading us?  Does this actually make us happier or help society progress?  Which is better, a network of like minded people around the world or a small group of friends you see often?  When AI can pass the Turing test, how will we even know if our network are real people?  Will we care?  Should I be calling Glen to talk about this or is writing this in a  public forum better?  Should I twitter about writing in this blog, should I twitter about thinking if I should twitter about this? 

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