April 22, 2009

Obsessively following Twitter.

Elsewhere in the NYT, there's a whole big story about a woman who tweets other people's recipes. It's a challenge translating the directions into 140 characters. It's also a challenge translating them out of 140 characters if you actually want to use them.

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Remember when you borrowed the notes of a classmate who had a penchant for compression? Or were you the one who always went to class and then did you deliberately compress, compress like mad — with lots of idiosyncratic abbreviations — so you could say I don't think these notes are comprehensible to anyone but me? Did they insist on borrowing your notes anyway? (Remember how nerve-wracking that was back in the days when it meant handing over your precious spiral notebook?)

***

Questions:

1. Tightly compressed writing. Good or bad?

2. New York Times constantly writing about Twitter. Good or bad? If bad: bad because they need to keep being obsessed with blogging?

3. Class notes. Were you the one who wanted to borrow or the one pressed to share? Did you?

4. Blogging: Compress more or go ahead and expand? (No one stopping you.)

5. Blogging: One topic per post or mix it up?

6. Bloggers: Annoying or cool? Cooler/more annoying than Twitterers?

58 comments:

Michael Hasenstab said...

Yep.

Issob Morocco said...

Two Sprial Notebooks, same color. One with Hierglyphic like symbols interspersed with brief snippets of the class theme in words ( 'covalent bonding similiar to animal attraction laws" ) that would send the would copier to never even sit by you in class, when they attended.

The other was the real notebook.

Actual notebooks were only handed out to those who lived in our rental house. We could always get payment in kind back by selling back their LPs or taking their food, if they lost the notes or gave them out to someone else, like their girlfriends.

Pogo said...

Never been tweeted.

As for spiral notebooks, listen to
Polonius:

Neither a borrower nor a lender be;
For loan oft loses both itself and friend,
And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry
.
Hamlet Act 1, scene 3, 75–77

Awesome said...

7. Twitter: boring/expired? Yes.

save_the_rustbelt said...

Maybe I am old and grouchy, but Twitter seems to be the dumbest tech idea of the decade.

commenter said...

ann,

do you cook or bake?

cooking you don't really need recipes. It's an art of taste. baking is all proportion if you are a pro. baker's percentages. look it up on wiki.

do the math. after that it's a piece of cake.

happy earth day. yes, even to you guys up there in the space deck running the holographic chambers. In the jungle room or on safari this morning/

John Althouse Cohen said...

New York Times constantly writing about Twitter. Good or bad?My take on the media's obsession with Twitter (originally blogged here):

I see Twitter as an alternative to Facebook for older people. Twitter might not make sense as an alternative to Facebook if you're in your 20s, but if you're over 40 or so, it allows you to partake in the joys of social media without having to figure out: "What's this Facebook thing all about?"

Maybe that's why the mainstream media are so obsessed with Twitter. They're informed enough to know that social-networking websites are a big enough craze to be worth reporting on. And it's clear what the most important such site is right now: Facebook. But either they don't get Facebook or it's too complicated to try to explain how it works in the limited space of media soundbites.* Twitter, by contrast, is entirely based on simplicity and brevity, so it's easy to convey it to a mass audience and seem like you're tuned into what the kids are up to these days.

* Of course, if that's the reason, then you have to wonder: if the mainstream media aren't adept at explaining something as trivial as Facebook, can we trust them to report on complicated issues that are actually serious?

ElcubanitoKC said...

Twitters take the cake, hands down. I have a Canadian friend who at the age of 30 still lives at home, doesn't have a job (his family supports his lazy sorry self), has fashined himself into some sort of pan-cause activist, and fills my Facebook status page with 24 twitter posts every second. Not only are the posts themselves annoying, the stuff he posts is too: every single "liberal" and "progressive" cliché on Earth which sound the more insincere taking into account whom he is...

Robert Cook said...

1. Tightly compressed writing. Good or bad?Depends.

2. New York Times constantly writing about Twitter. Good or bad? If bad: bad because they need to keep being obsessed with blogging?Pointless.

3. Class notes. Were you the one who wanted to borrow or the one pressed to share? Did you?Never borrowed, never shared; never asked, never was asked.

4. Blogging: Compress more or go ahead and expand? (No one stopping you.)Expand.

5. Blogging: One topic per post or mix it up?Go crazy.

6. Bloggers: Annoying or cool? Cooler/more annoying than Twitterers?Not applicable; ditto.

The River Otter said...

1. Tightly compressed writing. Good or bad? Generally, good- I like nice, tight editing. But not when there are a million of what I call Facebook tweets. (Yes, FB is now Twitter.)

3. Class notes. Were you the one who wanted to borrow or the one pressed to share? Did you? Never borrowed. Why? Mine were superior. Nope, never shared either.

4. Blogging: Compress more or go ahead and expand? Good writers- expand please! People will read the whole thing if they are interested; most people just scan anyway.

5. Blogging: One topic per post or mix it up? Definitely only one topic per post. It's more scannable.

6. Bloggers: Annoying or cool? Depends on the blogger and the topic!

lacegrl130 said...

I flunked Twitter. Tried it. Felt like I was in Jr. High. I realized early on I would never be popular.

Jason (the commenter) said...

If bad: bad because they need to keep being obsessed with blogging?

The New York Times (and other media) wants to seem relevant. They hear "young people" are doing something and they try to cover it.

Jason (the commenter) said...

Tightly compressed writing. Good or bad?

A clever person needs only a few words, a dull person only a few paragraphs.

Darcy said...

Oh, I wish you tweeted, Pogo! You'd be hilarious.

Darcy said...

That cute little avi would attract a lot of followers, too. (Still @Pogo) Hee.

Chip Ahoy said...

My notes were useless. All doodles and scribbles. I hadn't a clue what was important. I learned in the ninth grade to seek out and befriend the smartest girl in the class no matter how hard she repelled we eventually became friends. I owe all my grades to smart girls, without them I wouldn't have passed.

Pogo said...

Not surprisingly, unsmart but pretty girls never behaved so towards me, Chip.

**sads**

A genius friend of mine had cute looks and enjoyed when the pretty girls would ask him questions. He called it their "tits-in-the-ear" method.

Buford Gooch said...

Twitter is fun if you don't take it seriously. As to notes in college, I didn't take any, and didn't ask for any. Missed lots of classes. Still graduated above 4.0 on a 5.

John Althouse Cohen said...

They hear "young people" are doing something and they try to cover it. But are the young people doing it? It's basically Facebook status updates for people who are too old to understand Facebook.

Pogo said...

I understand Facebook, I just don't give shit about it.

Darcy said...

Sheesh. I understand Facebook as well, I just find Twitter more interesting and convenient.

Really, if you don't like one or the other (or both), what is the big deal? Why insult people that enjoy these means of communication?

If you like them, use them. If you don't, then don't. Simple.

Pogo said...

What I don't understand is Blogger.

I mean, what the hell?

John Althouse Cohen said...

"Sheesh.... Really, if you don't like one or the other (or both), what is the big deal? Why insult people that enjoy these means of communication?"


I'm paraphrasing something that's said all the time by people over 40.

In my opinion, the reason for the media's obsession isn't that Twitter is wildly popular with the young. It's that it's actually popular with those over 40 or so who don't get Facebook but want to use social media and find Twitter to be something they can manage.

Darcy said...

That's a slightly different statement than your first, Jac. How about suggesting that people choose Twitter because they find it something they want to manage, for whaever reason?

John Althouse Cohen said...

I stand by my accurate observation that is frequently made by the very people it's about.

Freeman Hunt said...

Based on what I see in my Twitter feed versus my Facebook account:

There is higher quality political and cultural content on Twitter, while Facebook is better for keeping up with the personal happenings of old friends (kids, travels, etc.)

If Twitter really does skew older, that probably explains why better ideas float around there.

John Althouse Cohen said...

Freeman Hunt: you're just talking about the age difference, but you're not considering another difference that would explain it: Twitter is full of professionals (and bloggers) who are using the site to promote their serious content. I've been using Twitter for a couple months, and those are the most common users I see; I'm seeing very few of my friends on the site. When I want to communicate with friends online, I use Facebook. Naturally the content on Facebook is more laid-back and less substantive.

chickenlittle said...

There are advantages and disadvantages to Twitter vs. other media (including blooger). These are obvious to users of both.
Another advantage that Amba tweeted:

Freeman Hunt said...

JAC, I agree. However, I think age and number of professionals is correlated. Young people will use social media just to use it, thus less interesting editorial content.

Bissage said...

"I don't know how you guys walk around with those things."

-- Elaine Benes

John Althouse Cohen said...

Freeman Hunt: fair point, but I'm mostly thinking of stuff like magazines, businesses, non-profit organizations, etc. Can either of us really rule out the possibility that these tweets are largely posted by those in, say, their 20s or early 30s? Admittedly, Twitter users skew older than Facebook users, but I don't find it very plausible that that's the most important determinant of the quality of Twitter content (presumably because older people are so much smarter??). The main reason Twitter content is more carefully thought-out than Facebook content is that Twitter is full of people who are seriously trying to market their stuff (to the point where I sometimes wonder if there's anyone left on Twitter for the stuff to be marketed to).

Michael Hasenstab said...

I'm paraphrasing something that's said all the time by people over 40.All the time? Show me the data, please.

Perhaps people over 40 say that to you all the time in response to something you've attempted to explain.

Freeman Hunt said...

presumably because older people are so much smarter??

No. Significantly wiser and less frivolous on the whole.

Even if I only compare the non-professionals in my feeds, Twitter editorial content is still better.

John Althouse Cohen said...

Nope, they're not saying it apropos of me trying to explain Facebook.

John Althouse Cohen said...

(response to Michael Hasenstab)

John Althouse Cohen said...

Even if I only compare the non-professionals in my feeds, Twitter editorial content is still better.Maybe they're trying to fit in with the overall professional milieu.

Freeman Hunt said...

Maybe they're trying to fit in with the overall professional milieu.

Then score one for Twitter.

John Althouse Cohen said...

By the way, the above will be my last comment in this thread about the well-known fact that older people often remark that they don't get Facebook.

chuck b. said...

Lol. I like Facebook because it's easier to use than e-mail. Also, no spam.

Also, Twitter is good for interacting with people that I would never friend on Facebook.

But mostly for me, I like Twitter as a micro-blogging tool. If Blogger added a sidebar for short micro-blogs I would use that. (And I'd like it to keep up my last 10 microbloggings, instead of just 5 as with Twitter.)

chuck b. said...

Would it be possible for someone to just tell me the Twitter handle for the person who tweets recipes? I would like to follow her, but I don't want to read the "whole big story" in the NYT.

chuck b. said...

Because I'm 39, and it would be too complicated.

Darcy said...

LOL.

Pogo said...

Are there any tweets by folks just sending out random single lower case letters?

If not, mebbe I should jump in after all. It'd be a new performance art. Or I could spell out secret messages.

"D--r--i--n--k
m--o--r--e
O--v--a--l--t--i--n--e
.

Pogo said...

B-r-e-y-e-r
p-u-t-s
p-i-l-l-s
i-n
h-i-s
u-n-d-e-r-o-o-s.

Jason (the commenter) said...

JAC : you're just talking about the age difference, but you're not considering another difference that would explain it: Twitter is full of professionals (and bloggers) who are using the site to promote their serious content.

John, you're suffering from selection bias. Try something that let's you see what everyone around your geographic location is twittering (or try Twinkle) and you will see an endless stream of "Rate my picture," "I'm bored," and "any girls 13-15 wanna talk."

Jason (the commenter) said...

The person with the most followers on Twitter is Ashton Kutcher. Britney Spears is number three. Are these two popular with the 40+ crowd?

Freeman Hunt said...

LOL, Jason. Maybe that's the difference: it's easier to be content biased in your selections on Twitter. The thing that will probably make you friend someone on Facebook is knowing them socially or having gone to school with them whereas on Twitter you're more likely to skew with whatever content you like best.

srfwotb said...

I think a stoned Kevin Smith tweeting for sex advice at 1AM locked in his bathroom is amusing, so sue me. (That goes for anyone, not just well-known types.)

It's like a Seinfeld episode running in the background all the time.

Christy said...

Terse is good, but Twitter bores. Too much noise to signal.

Class notes: I was the girl who couldn't say no. I was also such a nerd that I began taking class notes in Latin my junior year in H.S. to solve the problem. I began in biology class. Makes sense, right? Then just expanded.

srfwotb said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
blake said...

By the way, the above will be my last comment in this thread about the well-known fact that older people often remark that they don't get Facebook.That's funny: I've never had an older person ask me about Facebook but several ask me about Twitter.

former law student said...

Twitter seems to be the dumbest tech idea of the decade.Twitter was made for Titus. In fact his comments could easily have fit a Twitter feed.

Hopefully that's what happened to him: somewhere he's pinching loaves and tweeting about it.

Pogo said...

" I began taking class notes in Latin my junior year in H.S".

I would absolutely have dated you just for that.

Palladian said...

"Twitter is full of professionals (and bloggers) who are using the site to promote their serious content."

No professional who generates serious content would ever use something called "Twitter", or do something called "Tweeting". The irritating nature of the name of the service automatically weeds out anyone worth caring about.

Darcy said...

I was going to write my usual "LOL, Palladian.", but sheesh, how many of those can I write? (Shhh...not nice!)

I'll just say Palladian always, always cracks me up.

Priceless you are, Palladian.

Jason (the commenter) said...

Palladian, if what you say is true, you must be very, very, very professional; deadly professional.

Zachary Paul Sire said...

Twitter makes me extremely nervous.

kentuckyliz said...

I like fb for keeping up with my networks of friends but I hate the frivolous apps and that's probably what turns off older people. We don't have the time for that useless crap.

THE BEST group and hacks/mods instructions since the twitterification of facebook is CLEANING UP THE NEW FACEBOOK MESS or something like that. If you're interested I can look up the real name and post a link. It forces the crap back out of fb and makes it tolerable.

Twitter is kinda stupid but I like real time topical tweeting. I am usually on private mode lockdown but I'll turn that off sometimes. I had a blast tweeting my quips on #teaparty day and got a lot of followers out of it and probably made Napolitano's DHS Watch List. It was great fun.

Microblogging forces brevity, the soul of wit. Blogging is good for my meandering multitopical essays.

I took such great notes that I never had to look at them again. The act of notetaking forced the organization and memory of the content.

Whenever someone asked for my notes, I would teach them my notetaking method instead and offer to review their next attempt at notetaking after the next class meeting. Yeah I was one of those people. Not saying no but saying no if you were a lazy rider of coattails.