25 January 2009


One bi product of the recent "miracle plane landing" on the Hudson River in New York was the publicity garnered for Twitter, which was the medium that broke the story first, as people zoomed pictures from their mobile phones around the globe before the major news agencies had even loaded their cameras. I thought I should try to get to grips with this amazing technology so beloved of new media aficionados, so I visited twitter.com.

I'm sure I can't be the only person who, upon discovering what Twitter actually is, remains rather underwhelmed. According to the site, Twitter is simply: "a service for friends, family, and co–workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: What are you doing?".

Yes, really. No matter how mundane the task is that you are performing - from morning ablutions to lagging pipes - you can bore a wide circle of your friends with 140 characters to let them know. Burned the dinner? Forgotten to buy milk? Have an itchy left buttock? Why keep it to yourself? Your friends should be told. Repeatedly. On their mobile phones, so they can't miss it. I assume it is a service that is aimed at Facebook users who worry they are not self-absorbed enough.

I had to re-read the site to check it wasn't some elaborate joke by Chris Morris or something. In fact I'm still not sure it isn't. For example, when faced with the obvious question "why use Twitter?", with a straight face, twitter.com proudly replies:

Why? Because even basic updates are meaningful to family members, friends, or colleagues—especially when they’re timely.
Eating soup? Research shows that moms want to know.
Running late to a meeting? Your co–workers might find that useful.
Partying? Your friends may want to join you.

So imagine you are running late for a meeting. How could you have possibly let colleagues know this, before the invention of Twitter, if all you had were a mobile phone? Moving beyond parody, it finishes:

With Twitter, you can stay hyper–connected to your friends and always know what they’re doing...Twitter puts you in control and becomes a modern antidote to information overload.

For those of you who feel being "hyper-connected to your friends" via your mobile phone doesn't at all sound like "information overload", your medium has arrived.I wish I were making this up. Either that or I had invested in mobile phone shares, if this really is "incredibly useful" as the once-credible Wired magazine informs me. In fact, I'm thinking about founding a rival service called shitter.com, which allows you to serve an SMS to all your friends every time you move your bowels - just about the only thing left to fill the gap in the market left by twitter, facebook, blogging, linked-in, myspace and 'Britain's Got Talent.'

Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans, John Lennon once wrote. He was wrong, of course - we don't make plans any more as we're all too busy telling everyone what we ate for breakfast.

1 comment:

PW said...

Microblogging is the new blogging, Hoffy. Facebook is sooo 2007. The next stage is nanoblogging, where you're limited to five characters per post. You'll be glad to know that iamok.