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December 26, 2009 4:20 AM   Subscribe

It’s hard to argue that 2009 wasn’t the year of Twitter.

Could there really be, among all the excellent tweets, a best tweet of 2009?
posted by twoleftfeet (119 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
Was this the year they figured out a business model?
posted by mpbx at 4:44 AM on December 26, 2009 [7 favorites]


It’s hard to argue that 2009 wasn’t the year of Twitter.

Really? I mean maybe in the context of Mashable, sure, but that's a very narrow viewpoint. In the context of the rest of the larger world, I'm pretty sure 2009 was the Year of the Recession.
posted by DarlingBri at 4:54 AM on December 26, 2009 [8 favorites]


It’s hard to argue that 2009 wasn’t the year of Twitter.

Oh come on. Someone seriously said this?
posted by spoobnooble at 5:14 AM on December 26, 2009 [3 favorites]


Yes, let's have that argument.
posted by fixedgear at 5:25 AM on December 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


It was, for internet people. That doesn't mean I have to like it, though.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:29 AM on December 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


It was, for a small segment of internet people.
posted by Submiqent at 5:32 AM on December 26, 2009


I still don't get it.
posted by ericb at 5:41 AM on December 26, 2009


Internet fad is faddy.

Also, your title is truncated at 138 chars not 140.
posted by Rhomboid at 5:49 AM on December 26, 2009


It was, for a small segment of internet people, especially those in mainstream media.

Also, it's completely bizarre to write a "YEAR OF TWITTER!" piece and ignore the leaked documents TechCrunch published in July. That was huge for Twitter-lovers, and leaving it out of a year-end summation feels very much like sucking Twitter's cock.

Not that I know what that would feel like, just sayin.
posted by mediareport at 5:50 AM on December 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Did Twitter just buy the Second Life hype at some point?
posted by TrialByMedia at 6:00 AM on December 26, 2009


A lengthy argument with graphics arguing the relevancy of a medium that doesn't allow graphics or more than 140 character posts? Should be argued in 140 character chunks sans graphics no?
"If Twitter is really destined to become the world’s new SMS, 2010 is the time to do it, and we’re happy to be along for the ride."
Uh. The car is the next car?
Not that I don't follow nethack and peeweeherman though.
Fuck Team Ant
Seriously
Fuck Team Ant and the fucking Bees.
posted by vapidave at 6:00 AM on December 26, 2009


twitter...??? naw... not so much

There's a reason it begins with "twit"...
posted by HuronBob at 6:22 AM on December 26, 2009


Also, your title is truncated at 138 chars not 140.
posted by Rhomboid at 5:49 AM on December 26


metafilter: every character counts
posted by infini at 6:22 AM on December 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


It’s hard to argue that 2009 wasn’t the year of Twitter.

@twoleftfeet wut u talkin bout.
posted by AloneOssifer at 6:27 AM on December 26, 2009


This post is going exactly as predicted.
posted by schwa at 6:27 AM on December 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Year of the Twitter marketing machine.
posted by crapmatic at 6:33 AM on December 26, 2009


There's a reason it begins with "twit"...

And a reason it ends with "ter," amirite?
posted by Faint of Butt at 6:36 AM on December 26, 2009


It's hard to argue that the 1990s wasn't the decade of Taco Bell. Were there other things that happened in the 90s? Maybe. Was Taco Bell around before the 1990s? Maybe. But what matters is that that's when the one close to my house at the time was -- I was in high school -- so let me dedicate a few hundred lazy words and graphs to my insane premise, then we can all go back to watching animes <( '.' <)
posted by Damn That Television at 6:36 AM on December 26, 2009 [28 favorites]


Jesus fucking Christ, guys! A tech blog wrote an article about Twitter instead of about the economy! Let's throw rocks at 'em or some shit!
posted by Rory Marinich at 6:49 AM on December 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


I like twitter and this is a dumb idea, who would say that; a dummy that is who.
posted by boo_radley at 6:51 AM on December 26, 2009


WHEN HISTORIANS LOOK BACK AT 2009 THEY WILL SEE THAT TWITTER IS THE ONLY TIHNG THAT SAVED THE ECONAMY AND DESTROYD ALL QAIDA #TWURT
posted by Greg Nog at 7:01 AM on December 26, 2009 [3 favorites]


Faint of Butt: "And a reason it ends with "ter,""

You know what else ends with "ter"?

Tater.
posted by idiopath at 7:15 AM on December 26, 2009 [12 favorites]


#reelmolesworth was responsible for all the best tweets of '09 as any fule kno.
posted by permafrost at 7:18 AM on December 26, 2009


I thought 2009 was the year of the sparkly vampire.
posted by MikeMc at 7:22 AM on December 26, 2009 [3 favorites]


I had a really elegant argument to support this thesis, but it wouldn't fit in 140 characters.
posted by localroger at 7:30 AM on December 26, 2009 [3 favorites]


Twitter is not revolutionary, in any sense of the word. As the article points out, the creators of twitter made an entirely barebones service whose features were forged by the users in a slapdash way, and there is still no real plan for monetization as far as anyone can tell.

Who gives a shit?

The important fact is that this is the year that people - real people - started using and thinking about twitter/social media on a daily basis. Amongst the college crowd and amongst the Metafilter crowd, we have already had our day exposing our lives with Livejournal, Myspace, Facebook, Friendster, et al. But there's never before been a place where politicians, celebrities, newscasters, and your average person on the street would use and think about twitter.

So that's the real revolution of twitter, which is really a revolution in the prevailing culture of the US.

The other thing which is interesting, although I wouldn't be willing to call it revolutionary or a usable phenomenon yet, is that at the level of critical mass that twitter has achieved and the way in which it is organized lends itself to quick disbursement of news (and, unfortunately, rumors). The article points out the Michael Jackson thing, but it missed the obviously more important Iranian elections and subsequent riots.
posted by TypographicalError at 7:31 AM on December 26, 2009 [7 favorites]


I think a lot of people really did start using these social media thingies during the last year. There are a lot of people I know who haven't been "internet people" who suprised me by jumping on this bandwagon relatively recently. I can't make a judgment about this, but it is noticeable.
posted by twoleftfeet at 7:39 AM on December 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


CB radio was once hot shit too.

Just sayin'.
posted by Joe Beese at 7:40 AM on December 26, 2009 [7 favorites]


An awful lot of people flat out refused to buy a Chia Pet until they came out with Chia Head.
posted by FelliniBlank at 7:46 AM on December 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


Twitter is not revolutionary, in any sense of the word. As the article points out, the creators of twitter made an entirely barebones service whose features were forged by the users in a slapdash way, and there is still no real plan for monetization as far as anyone can tell.

I find the "no plan for monetization" argument kind of strange. I mean tons of twitter's critics make it, but it's not like they've invested in it. Why do they care? Wikipedia doesn't make any money, but it's very useful.

That said I still hate twitter.

I mean those "best tweets"? They're all vapid nonsense. None of them say anything interesting.
posted by delmoi at 7:49 AM on December 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


I find the "no plan for monetization" argument kind of strange. I mean tons of twitter's critics make it, but it's not like they've invested in it. Why do they care? Wikipedia doesn't make any money, but it's very useful.

Could that be because Wikipedia is run by a non-profit charitable organization?
posted by odinsdream at 7:57 AM on December 26, 2009


So... 2009 was the year of Twitter... for who? The American news media? So basically, this is another article where the media reports on itself (and, as people pointed out above, uncritically)? I have CJR for stuff like that.

As someone who used Twitter regularly this year, this was the only memorable tweet in 2009.
posted by shii at 7:58 AM on December 26, 2009


Was this the year they figured out a business model?

and there is still no real plan for monetization as far as anyone can tell.Twitter has reached profitability within three years.

Oops. Let the snarkers start eating their shorts.
posted by mark242 at 8:08 AM on December 26, 2009


I mean those "best tweets"? They're all vapid nonsense. None of them say anything interesting.

Sheesh, no kidding.
posted by adamdschneider at 8:12 AM on December 26, 2009


It's hard to argue that 2009 wasn't The Year Of MetaFilter Users Shitting On Any Post Mentioning Twitter.
posted by dw at 8:14 AM on December 26, 2009 [6 favorites]


"Why do they care?"

Because the Twitter dudes want to purvey their system as some kind of platform. However, I have no desire to build services on a platform that is entirely controlled by a corporate entity that has no future. Actually, I have no desire to build services on Twitter anyway -- if I want an SMS gateway, I'll just use a frickin SMS gateway, thanks, and I already know how to write a pub/sub MQ -- but knowing they're taking no steps whatsoever to ensure that the platform will continue to exist makes the whole thing even more dubious.

A lot of the Internet doesn't need a "plan for monetization" because it's not owned by single corporate entities. If giganews goes down, Usenet continues to exist. If Google implodes, the Web, email, and XMPP chat will live on. If Twitter's funders put the knife in it, Twitter just goes away, as there is no other implementation.
posted by majick at 8:18 AM on December 26, 2009 [4 favorites]


My favorite tweet of all time.
posted by ColdChef at 8:35 AM on December 26, 2009 [5 favorites]


Here, let me take a wake at it: 2009 was not the year of twitter.

Huh, that wasn't so hard.
posted by DU at 8:40 AM on December 26, 2009


I posted my incredibly compelling, well-reasoned summary of why this was the year of Twitter to Twitter1, and nobody saw it.

Oh well, maybe next year.

1in fourteen 138-character installments, natch
posted by davejay at 8:44 AM on December 26, 2009


I don't get Twitter either, but it seems like everybody is using it. From news organizations trying to source out their jobs, to D-list celebs who love the sound of their own tweets, to my unborn child, people just love the Twitter.

So maybe the weight of users will give it a use?
posted by robocop is bleeding at 8:46 AM on December 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's awesome how Twitter shakes the mefi hater-tree. I mean, I understand the inane quality of most twitter accounts, but how is it any different than livejournal accounts, personal blogs, talk radio shows, telephone calls, bulletin board posts, IRC chatter, etc.?

It's a loosely coupled broadcast medium for short text snippets. People do lots of mind-numbingly dull things with it, people do lots of interesting things with it. Complaining about Twitter is like bitching about the Shins. By the same token, TechCrunch and Mashable overhype it, but they overhype everything. I know people who use Twitter, I know people who dislike it, and it doesn't really matter that much.

But when people start launching egocentric web campaigns (complete with branded wallpaper?) just to say "I'm too awesome to click buttons labeled 'follow'" perhaps it's time to ask whose ego needs checking.
posted by verb at 8:52 AM on December 26, 2009 [5 favorites]


That said I still hate twitter.

Really?
posted by cjorgensen at 8:52 AM on December 26, 2009


I'm not here to defend Twitter. I am here to say that Twitter is one of the things a lot of MeFites are dead wrong about.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:55 AM on December 26, 2009 [8 favorites]


A lot of the Internet doesn't need a "plan for monetization" because it's not owned by single corporate entities. If giganews goes down, Usenet continues to exist. If Google implodes, the Web, email, and XMPP chat will live on. If Twitter's funders put the knife in it, Twitter just goes away, as there is no other implementation.
That's one of the reasons that people are excited about Status.net. It's an open source implementation microblogging system that's Twitter-API compatible. The userbase is obviously smaller, and if you download the source, set up your own server, and say, "Hey! I'm the new Twitter!" You will most likely be ignored. But at this point the utility of 'something like Twitter' has been demonstrated and there are tools out there to take Twitter.com's place if the Twitter team implodes.
posted by verb at 8:56 AM on December 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


I mean, I understand the inane quality of most twitter accounts, but how is it any different than livejournal accounts, personal blogs, talk radio shows, telephone calls, bulletin board posts, IRC chatter, etc.?

I don't read a lot of news stories about how telephone calls and livejournal accounts are going to revolutionize communication/journalism/marketing/culture/the internet/society/business/life. It's the level of attention it gets compared to how important it actually is that makes it irritating. I read an article a few months back that said something to the effect of: "Twitter is the leader in the red hot real-time online status update market" and I just wondered, what kind of world do we live in where something like that can be written with a straight face?

The best thing about Twitter is that I no longer have to listen to clueless journalists prattle on about Second Life. That was embarrassing for everyone involved.
posted by mpbx at 8:57 AM on December 26, 2009 [4 favorites]


I don't read a lot of news stories about how telephone calls and livejournal accounts are going to revolutionize communication/journalism/marketing/culture/the internet/society/business/life.
I had no idea that Mashable.com covered the invention of the telephone. As for Livejournal (and its cousin, straight-up blogging), seriously? Did you sleep through the early 90s? Does the phrase 'citizen bloggers' not ring any unpleasant bells?
It's the level of attention it gets compared to how important it actually is that makes it irritating.
That, IMO, is a problem with the way the press works. It doesn't diminish Twitter's utility for those who like it. That's why the hate-on for Twitter here feels pointless and, dare I say, just as narcissistic as the worst celebrity "tweets."
The best thing about Twitter is that I no longer have to listen to clueless journalists prattle on about Second Life. That was embarrassing for everyone involved.
On this, we can agree. SL was interesting but it was never going to 'change the world': too many people with cash took their copies of Snow Crash way too seriously.
posted by verb at 9:04 AM on December 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Now that most really tech-loving people have internet-enabled phones, what exactly is the purpose of Twitter? It used to be that you could update your status and get updates on your friends via SMS, but if you can get on email/Facebook/whatever on your phone, why do we need Twitter? I think it's going to phase out as things that allow images and video, like Tumblr, take over their niche.
posted by ishotjr at 9:13 AM on December 26, 2009


verb: "It's awesome how Twitter shakes the mefi hater-tree. I mean, I understand the inane quality of most twitter accounts, but how is it any different than livejournal accounts, personal blogs, talk radio shows, telephone calls, bulletin board posts, IRC chatter, etc.?"

Its self-congratulatory triumphalism, nattering intrusiveness, and active erosion of already endangered attention spans?

Just a guess.
posted by Joe Beese at 9:22 AM on December 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


I like Twitter. But re: It's hard to argue that 2009 wasn't the year of Twitter.

It's really fun to make position statements like this because it is a construction that so emphatically asks you to disprove a negative. Here, see:

It's hard to argue that 2009 wasn't the year of bad credit.
It's hard to argue that the slider isn't a truly superior form of burger.
It's hard to argue that candy corn isn't the Reese Witherspoon of candy.
It's hard to argue that a two-state solution isn't viable.
It's hard to argue that Ralph Waldo Emerson isn't the greatest English language essayist.

It isn't hard to see why this isn't the most honest way to not claim a tangible position.
posted by voronoi at 9:27 AM on December 26, 2009 [4 favorites]


Its self-congratulatory triumphalism, nattering intrusiveness, and active erosion of already endangered attention spans?

Again, this is different from television, telephone, radio, and the Internet how?

Twitter is just a tool. The question is whether you seek to use it as a tool, act like a tool using it, or be an even bigger tool by criticizing it for the sake of criticizing it.
posted by dw at 9:35 AM on December 26, 2009 [5 favorites]


There's a reason it begins with "twit"...

Any time someone makes the "lol twits" crack, I can't help but immediately think of this.
posted by griphus at 9:37 AM on December 26, 2009 [5 favorites]


Sorry, uh, prove a negative. I think.
posted by voronoi at 9:38 AM on December 26, 2009


  • A lengthy argument with graphics arguing the relevancy of a medium that doesn't allow graphics or more than 140 character posts? Should be argued in 140 character chunks sans graphics no?
  • I had a really elegant argument to support this thesis, but it wouldn't fit in 140 characters.

"You reviewed an indie rock album with words? Why didn't you review it with indie rock?"

"A lengthy thesis on the relevancy of bauhaus architecture? Why didn't you make a smooth building about it?"

"You keep mentioning Michael Jackson. Why aren't you Michael Jackson?"
posted by skwt at 9:41 AM on December 26, 2009 [18 favorites]


And I like Twitter a lot, but I don't read Techcrunch or Mashable because I agree with the criticisms of them listed above. They're hype machines that spew BS about underbuilt platforms from overfunded startups.

I think you can easily separate the promise and reality of Twitter from the PT Barnum-esque carnival barker that is Michael Arrington. The mistake the media made with blogs was not being able to separate the killer app aspects of blogging (e.g. hyperlocal blogs and citizen media) from bad bloggers. I don't understand why MeFites can't make that separation themselves.

I don't know if Twitter is going to last beyond 2010, but I do know it's been an important stepping stone towards whatever online future we're marching towards.
posted by dw at 9:46 AM on December 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


I like Twitter. I use it a lot. But I hate this FPP. I also think that the Tweets on the "best" websites linked here are terrible. Was this post designed to make people not like Twitter?
posted by kcalder at 9:56 AM on December 26, 2009


The automated searching and retweeting that is starting to happen is an interesting area on Twitter. The obvious examples are the customer service interactions that some businesses are using. Someone complains about X from company Y. Company Y picks it up via search and responds. Ok, that's moderately interesting and potentially useful.

A few weeks ago I was working at home doing some writing and to help myself procrastinate, I would post a comment every 5 minutes or so on the crazy bird-feeding frenzy I was witnessing out my window. Every step of the way I knew I was being frivolous, meaningless and was pretty sure none of my friends would care a whit about my tweets (and I was right about that!). But it was fun and the only person I was interested in pleasing was myself. A bit later in the day I saw someone had reposted a comment. It turned out to be an account that had a real-time running list of comments from around the world about birds. The owner has a bot constantly searching Twitter for mentions of "birds". But then these are filtered by what must be the most interesting ones to him/her. How weird. But kinda cool.

I'm not trying to make the point that this is radically useful, noteworthy, etc. I think Twitter is a lot about the process and context, which is why those "Best of" lists seem so pointless from the outside. I think there is a future there where the ability to extract meaningful information from the chatter will only get stranger and even useful.
posted by jeremias at 10:07 AM on December 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


Is there any way to disable google's twitchy twitter widget? That thing hurts my eyes.
posted by mad bomber what bombs at midnight at 10:21 AM on December 26, 2009


It's hilarious that Stephen Fry has so enthusiastically embraced the only medium in which he is capable of being boring.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:34 AM on December 26, 2009 [9 favorites]


The best use of twitter I have seen is to transmit electronic music.
One piece of music per tweet.
posted by idiopath at 11:50 AM on December 26, 2009 [4 favorites]


2009 is the new 2008.
posted by mccarty.tim at 12:31 PM on December 26, 2009


It's hard to argue that Obama isn't looking into new and better ways to euthanize old people.

Woah, that is a powerful way to frame a claim. It's like all of Glenn Beck's "prove me wrong" rhetoric distilled into a syrupy-sweet subheadline. If this escapes that headline, we're in big trouble.

I humbly suggest that Matt quarantine MetaFilter. No one logs out, or on, until we develop a potent counter-argument other than "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence."
posted by mccarty.tim at 12:35 PM on December 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


I think the problem is that Twitter ended up being a good way to see what celebrities are up to, and to get a feed of new articles from your favorite websites, but Twitter has always been pitched as a way to send status messages to your friends, something Facebook has been much better at.

It's a bit like how blogging was pitched as a great way to keep a diary that anyone could read, but most people don't blog, and the blogs we read tend to be from people who are very interesting (read: celebrities), funny, or experts on a subject we like.

It's more democratic in that anyone could tweet anything, and anyone could blog anything, but the fact is that it's mostly noise aside from the famous and the interesting. Most startups in the internet try to glorify the noise, probably because they feel that will attract investors and new users, since that means new users get to be famous, and investors will think they are pioneering the democratic, new media we've been promised by the early internet documentaries.
posted by mccarty.tim at 12:41 PM on December 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


it's mostly noise aside from the famous and the interesting.
Humanity is mostly noise aside from the famous and the interesting. It's worth considering, though, that who you consider interesting depends on what you're looking for. Intellectually stimulating conversation about the latest Ian Banks novel? A peek at what people think of a new video game? Info on what your friend Jim is doing this weekend? Feedback from your circle of acquaintances about a movie you're thinking of seeing in a couple of hours? A list of the top-grossing records for 1967? All of those things are mind-numbingly dull if they aren't what you're looking for.

That's why filtering is important -- not why a particular communication channel is boring. From a macro perspective -- read, the folks like Google or NowPublic or various folks doing realtime analysis -- the more diverse streams of information and interest you have, the better. You can tailor your tools to give people only what they're interested in, but you can't tailor your algorithms to generate more information if no one is posting it.
posted by verb at 1:08 PM on December 26, 2009 [3 favorites]


I somehow manage to do a lot of reading while rarely encountering Twitter hype. I guess I don't read sites like Mashable and Techcrunch, but maybe you folks who are tired of the ubiquitous hype should rethink your reading material.

A good place to find more interesting content is, uh, Twitter. Depends on who you follow, though.
posted by brundlefly at 1:22 PM on December 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Twitter is just a tool. The question is whether you seek to use it as a tool, act like a tool using it, or be an even bigger tool by criticizing it for the sake of criticizing it.

Things I might have missed w/o twitter: live vids from inside Iran during the election crisis; live vids and commentaries from Honduras re: riots, Zelaya and 'election'; live link to Eddie Aikau surf + many vids of event ... and much more

I might have have found these things on my own, but most were not posted in English (I am pathetically disabled in languages). It is easy to follow a non-Engllish tweet - at least easier than a non-english page or post. Some of these links were eventually picked up by engiish-speaking media, but only marginally - and much later than on twitter.

Over the years I have felt that the internet revealed the 'two-tiered' hierarchy of media/information in society. It gave 'the rest of us' a seat at the table. But ... the tension to divide and rule remains. All media trends toward hierarchy -- even the internet gets divided into pockets of elite who dole out what the masses can see/hear. There is something about twitter that sides with the 'masses' -- and may undermine that other tension. It could be the annoying noise or the frustrating hyperbole (rumor hoppiing) ... or maybe all the different languages crossing links.

Twitter just seems to be the only place on the internet that isn't going to be easily domesticated -- even though this war of noise vs. control (anarchy v. hierarchy) increases by the minute. Learning to use Twitter as a tool will be an ongoing process.
posted by Surfurrus at 1:23 PM on December 26, 2009 [3 favorites]


I think it's going to phase out as things that allow images and video, like Tumblr, take over their niche.
posted by ishotjr


You mean, like blogs? You really don't understand twitter.

I mean those "best tweets"? They're all vapid nonsense. None of them say anything interesting.
posted by delmoi


Haha. This is awesome. Four pages.

It's just delicious that you've made over 22,000 comments mostly of just random BS but you hate twitter. Twitter was MADE for you delmoi.
posted by Dennis Murphy at 1:37 PM on December 26, 2009 [7 favorites]


I am here to say that Twitter is one of the things a lot of MeFites are dead wrong about.

There's a strange contigent on Metafilter that freaks out when Twitter gets any kind of criticism. I'm trying to figure it out. I think it has to do with something that, for lack of a better term, could perhaps be called the "Bareback Andy" effect: Lazy people don't want to be on the outside looking in on the Next Hot Trend, so they latch onto something like Twitter like a parasitic zebra mussel onto a shipping boat.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:48 PM on December 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


Here is why Metafilter sucks at Twitter. Mobs don't have the self-reflection required to understand what they are a part of.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:52 PM on December 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


I've posted my thoughts on twitter before (in response to people being violently opposed to the @someone trend of addressing someone), but here they are again slightly expanded upon:
I know it's in vogue to hate on Twitter but you don't have to fucking try to eradicate anything that might even slightly resemble a twitter message. What's next, making sure every comment you leave is over 140 characters?

Yes, people that are so narcissistic that they assume others are interested in their every waking thought are annoying as fuck. This is the same for any media they use, whether it be Twitter, blogs, vlogs, texting, endless cellphone chatter, or just shouting at the top of their lungs. The important thing about twitter is that it's completely opt-in -- if you don't want to hear the one-in-a-hundred person who actually does only talk about their meals you don't have to. Only follow people you're interested in and you'll be free from all banality (except your own).

I agree, it's also fucking annoying to hear newspeople chatter endlessly about Twitter, but as I'm sure you're aware this is the same for any cutesy thing they pick up and focus on. "People like twitter," they think, "so we should let them know about it!" Get your ire up at the fact that our media would rather spend time on little things like that than on actual news. (Note: since the time I wrote this message newspeople have dramatically dropped their Twitter chattering. It's become commonplace and less interesting.)

Now, onto the actual issues: The vocabulary's certainly twee as fuck but you can't actively change that. It's part of the culture of the site and for better or worse it's going to stay. The 140-character format may be limiting but it can't be changed or they'd lose the major text-messaging facet of the service. Besides, a 140-character message can easily fit a sentence or two; three such messages can fit an entire paragraph. If you want to share something, you can.

So, what's left to be angry about Twitter? Nothing. Get over it.
posted by flatluigi at 2:03 PM on December 26, 2009 [3 favorites]


I still don't get it.

It's just another nail in the coffin for our collective attention span.
@Brawndo: It has electrolytes!
posted by MikeMc at 2:04 PM on December 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


There's a strange contigent on Metafilter that freaks out when Twitter gets any kind of criticism. I'm trying to figure it out. I think it has to do with something that, for lack of a better term, could perhaps be called the "Bareback Andy" effect: Lazy people don't want to be on the outside looking in on the Next Hot Trend, so they latch onto something like Twitter like a parasitic zebra mussel onto a shipping boat.
That's the ticket. If people disagree with you, play armchair psychiatrist and say they're just trying to be cool. Slag on Arrington and the Mashable hype addicts if you want to, but there are boring, normal, everyday people who use Twitter for interesting things every day -- just like blogs, IRC, email, and so on.

There is no 'freak-out' about criticism of Twitter, just annoyance at the retro-hipster "Oh, Twitter, that's for the plebes" stuff that some of the MeFites pull out whenever the word appears on the blue. It's the nerd's equivalent of Your Favorite Band Sucks, and it's not the same as criticism of Twitter or commentary on social media.
posted by verb at 2:04 PM on December 26, 2009 [3 favorites]


Blazecock Pileon: "There's a strange contigent on Metafilter that freaks out when Twitter gets any kind of criticism."

It just gets irritating that, whenever anything remotely related to Twitter is posted to MeFi, there's a stampede to post snarky comments about how Twitter starts with "twit." It seems like a knee jerk reaction and never adds anything to the discussion.

Shorter version: NUH UH! YOU ARE! :P

On preview: what verb said.
posted by brundlefly at 2:06 PM on December 26, 2009


Also, that reply to Blazecock Pileon was a bit sharper than I'd intended. It's unclear reading his post whether his 'people who want to jump onto the latest thing' was referring to hypesters like Arrington or just people who use Twitter. The former, IMO, deserve the callout. Saying it about people just because they use Twitter or see value in it, though, is like accusing someone of wanting to be 'hip' because they use email.
posted by verb at 2:19 PM on December 26, 2009


If you're willing to insult someone to defend twitter you're an idiot.
posted by boo_radley at 2:25 PM on December 26, 2009


I like Hello Big Foot. Some twitter streams are just worth it.
posted by fcummins at 2:38 PM on December 26, 2009


That's the ticket. If people disagree with you, play armchair psychiatrist and say they're just trying to be cool.

I think that #amazonfail both demonstrates the truth of that, and why Internet mobs, including the one that formed on Metafilter, are entirely incapable of acknowledging objective criticism of Twitter as a communication medium and social phenomenon. Still, the CB analogy will likely bear out in the long run, so all of this doesn't matter, except that something else will ultimately take its place.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:49 PM on December 26, 2009


So, what's left to be angry about Twitter?

No Miley. 'nuff said
posted by MikeMc at 2:50 PM on December 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Blazecock Pileon: "Internet mobs, including the one that formed on Metafilter, are entirely incapable of acknowledging objective criticism of Twitter as a communication medium and social phenomenon."

So, again, people who disagree with you are just part of a mob?
posted by brundlefly at 2:54 PM on December 26, 2009


Why did you skip over the preceding sentence?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:58 PM on December 26, 2009


So, again, people who disagree with you are just part of a mob?
I don't think that's what BP is saying. I could be misreading him, but I really don't think that's what he's getting at.

That said, I disagree that #amazonfail was a sign that people can't acknowledge criticism of Twitter: I think that it's a perfect example of why Twitter will not usher in any Golden Age Of Communication. It's just another pipe for information, and its rapid cycle time is a both a blessing and a curse if it's used as a delivery mechanism for breaking news.

Blogs and blogging are now a normal part of the news landscape. Bloggers make news, newsmakers blog, etc. It gave us a new set of tools, introduced a new set of problems, and killed certain assumptions. But at its core, blogging is just about displaying dated content in reverse chronological order and letting people edit it via their browser.
posted by verb at 3:07 PM on December 26, 2009


That said, I disagree that #amazonfail was a sign that people can't acknowledge criticism of Twitter: I think that it's a perfect example of why Twitter will not usher in any Golden Age Of Communication. It's just another pipe for information, and its rapid cycle time is a both a blessing and a curse if it's used as a delivery mechanism for breaking news.

It is also a prime example of people on the outside trying really hard to be on the inside from the ground floor--to be "cool". And that criticism extends from everyday Mefite cheerleaders of Twitter, to slimy celebrity-wannabes like Andrew Sullivan who use Twitter to gain a reputation they have not earned and do not deserve.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:13 PM on December 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


It is also a prime example of people on the outside trying really hard to be on the inside from the ground floor--to be "cool".
Huh.

I have absolutely no idea how one would arrive at that conclusion via #amazonfail and Andrew Sullivan.

IMO at least, #amazonfail was a case of Twitter as a medium for rumor dissemination, and the Internt's built-in love of I've-Seen-Lots-of-Photoshops speculation. Regarding Sulliven, his position seems to have more to do with his column, his early support for the invasion of Iraq, his sexuality and its perceived contrast with his religious beliefs, and so on -- not his use of Twitter.

You might be right, might be wrong, I'm just not seeing the dots that connect those particular ideas.
posted by verb at 3:29 PM on December 26, 2009


I don't think that's what BP is saying. I could be misreading him, but I really don't think that's what he's getting at.

I'll admit that that may be the case. I'm trying to get a handle on what he's getting at.

Why did you skip over the preceding sentence?

Because it didn't seem relevant. Ok, how does the #amazonfail thing support your idea that people who defend twitter are "Lazy people" who "don't want to be on the outside looking in on the Next Hot Trend, so they latch onto something like Twitter like a parasitic zebra mussel onto a shipping boat" and "are entirely incapable of acknowledging objective criticism of Twitter as a communication medium and social phenomenon."

It seemed to me that that whole to-do was more a matter of technical ignorance combined with a broader mob mentality (something certainly not confined to Twitter).

If I'm misunderstanding you, please clarify.
posted by brundlefly at 3:40 PM on December 26, 2009


It seemed to me that that whole to-do was more a matter of technical ignorance combined with a broader mob mentality (something certainly not confined to Twitter).

So it is about being in a mob, after all.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:44 PM on December 26, 2009


metafilter: technical ignorance combined with a broader mob mentality

... and hamburger
posted by Surfurrus at 3:59 PM on December 26, 2009


So it is about being in a mob, after all.

I used the phrase "mob mentality" in that comment, yes. Notice it was preceded by "broader" and followed up by "(something certainly not confined to Twitter)." You seem to think that a mob mentality is a defining characteristic of Twitter and those who use and/or defend it. I don't think you've made your case.
posted by brundlefly at 4:00 PM on December 26, 2009


I hate Twitter and I really hate people who Twitter from and about their Apple Jesus Phone 3GS. I hope this thread goes nuclear or I'll have wasted my time donning a radiation suit.</small.
posted by MikeMc at 4:22 PM on December 26, 2009


Was this the year they figured out a business model?

Not to run the fun of a hate-on, but twitter is profitable*.

* However, considering the amount of equity the investors hold, it's a piddling rate of return.
posted by amuseDetachment at 4:48 PM on December 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


I didn't get Twitter at the start. I shared the opinion that it was nothing more than a way for tech-obsessed hipsters to tell each other what cafe they were drinking their skinny latte's in that morning. Now I do get it, and it is cool and unique.

I follow a smattering of comedians and musicians, a pile of Australian journalists and politicians, some people from my local town (including news services, and "What's happening today" sites), a pile of people from Metafilter. Thanks to this, I found out about Michael Jackson's death almost immediately. Well, that's not that impressive or important, I suppose. But Twitter fed me up-to-the-second news regarding recent Australian political events surrounding the emissions trading legislation and the LIberal party leadership contests. Twitter reminded me to bring my son to the local Carols by Candlelight last Saturday night. Twitter has pointed me to some good music I'd have never found myself, and news I'd never have found on the sites I usually read daily.

Not to overhype it - it's just useful, and it's made useful by how people use it, not by hype or promises coming from from Twitter HQ. It seems that the people who are saying "But surely Facebook can do the same thing? Surely blogs are more useful?" also don't get it yet. Maybe they will eventually - dive in a bit deeper, start following people who have something useful to say.
posted by Jimbob at 4:54 PM on December 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


You seem to think that a mob mentality is a defining characteristic of Twitter and those who use and/or defend it. I don't think you've made your case.

I think the #amazonfail thread I linked to makes this case well. I was there when it happened, and even if Twitter proponents have decided to forget it, it still represents everything wrong about people pretending it is a reliable source of information and everything wrong about bandwagon jumping itself, which is ironic considering that much of Twitter's success can be attributed to bandwagon jumping.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:04 PM on December 26, 2009


Hating Twittter is about as bright as hating bikes or hammers or hooks or ropes or forks.
It's just a tool.
If you don't get how to use it, just ask.
posted by bru at 6:16 PM on December 26, 2009


So, what exactly do you say that thread shows, Blazecock Pileon? I'm rereading it and I'm not sure what your point is, other than that you're saying it's self-evident.
posted by flatluigi at 6:20 PM on December 26, 2009


Strike that. I do see what you're referring to a bit, but I'd still like your phrasing of it.
posted by flatluigi at 6:26 PM on December 26, 2009


If you don't get how to use it, just ask.

Okay. I'll bite. Why should I use it?
posted by ericb at 6:47 PM on December 26, 2009


Always hilarious to hear from the self-appointed spiritual godfathers of teh interwebz. So much thwarted ambition from ageing rockstars of the virtual world, who bitterly chew the pill of reality.
I mean, it must just fucking sting to have to watch the world YOU PERSONALLY BUILT WITH THE SWEAT OF YOUR NERDLINESS over-run by philistines!

Philistines, by the way, who can get an idea across in 140 characters. What fuckers.
posted by Gamien Boffenburg at 6:52 PM on December 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


dw: "I don't know if Twitter is going to last beyond 2010"

So 2009 might not have been the year of Twitter, but Twitter's year was certainly 2009.

Or maybe 1999...
posted by pwnguin at 6:58 PM on December 26, 2009


I do see what you're referring to a bit, but I'd still like your phrasing of it.

There was a crowd feeding on wrong info--bad info--and worse feeding each other amplified, spurious data, with little skepticism or even basic fact checking.

The idea that it can replace journalism, let alone supplement it, still makes me laugh. Bringing this to its logical conclusion was Sullivan sitting on his fat ass claiming to be a "reporter" by repeating unverified data as fact, attempting to inject himself as a hero of the Iranian people. It's that thread of vanity-at-all-costs that makes Twitter and its more self-important pseudocelebs/members who are so annoying, putting the excitement of being "first" (even when repeating false info) above reality.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:09 PM on December 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Every time i worry about sounding as empty and pompous about twitter as Gamien ("ugh, you just don't GET us grandpa, go back to your BLOGS and FAILED DREAMS") I look at twitter's trending topics.

Here's one for you: #iloveitwhen he begg knowin i wont give it up n make him wait lol

So, yeah, twitter can be used for all kinds of things, but saying it's used solely by Smart People Thinking Important Thoughts is idiotic.
posted by boo_radley at 7:10 PM on December 26, 2009


Sigh.

If we take away all the vowels we can say metafilter makes no sense.

Take one 'thread' of twitter - or any 'trending topic' and you still don't have a picture of what twitter is (or can enable). Twitter (content) really is the Blind Man's elephant.
posted by Surfurrus at 8:50 PM on December 26, 2009 [1 favorite]



Philistines, by the way, who can get an idea across in 140 characters. What fuckers.

results for #NahImGood
63 more tweets since you started searching.

2. Cam_normal ImVelldotcom Bitch Seaid Lemme Getta Piece Of That.. #Nahimgood half a minute ago from web
3. Britt_normal FlyyandFabulous You wearing them Phat Farm shoes??? #NahImGood half a minute ago from web
4. Singtome_036_phixr_normal MICHAELAdavison "send some duurrrtyyyyyy picz" #NahImGood thanks for the offer though, pig. half a minute ago from web
5. N1599930029_46630_1607885_normal YungRonG U wanna kiss..? #NahImGood u juz kissed yo pitbull half a minute ago from UberTwitter
6. Picture_239_normal grayjrt Want me to Cut yur Hair??? #nahimgood half a minute ago from Echofon
9. 1209090139-00_normal iClearly Can I het yo number shawty? #nahimgood

Bleeding edge my man, bleeding edge...

posted by MikeMc at 9:03 PM on December 26, 2009


Furthermore, comments on websites are useless and terrible.

*posts some YouTube excerpts*
posted by flatluigi at 9:33 PM on December 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


the quality of your twitter experience is wholly dependent on whom you choose to follow.

I didn't get twitter when it first came on the scene and big name bloggers went on about it, some going as far as to choose tweeting over blogging etc

today, with a tight selection of whom I choose to follow (under 60 people) from a variety of countries with diverse interests and work, its become the equivalent of a quick "pulse" check on news, interesting articles or blog posts on topics of interest

a curated content feed of a quality that no direct rss from any one source could match

i also protect my tweets and can't be randomly followed - my aim is not to garner followers or create a splash but to maximize the value of the tool for me, per my needs
posted by infini at 9:53 PM on December 26, 2009 [3 favorites]


ericb: Why should I use it?

What you are interested in?
Or rather: who?

It was easy for me: a friend of mine was on Twitter so I checked the people he was following and followed those who might interest me. You'll see pretty quickly what you like and what you don't. Personally I use Twitter as a knowledge tool in my field: media and marketing on the web, interaction with users, communities.

So I unfollowed people who post about their breakfast. I am interested in useful information, which comes generally with a link. I don't like people who post too much but you might.

Past 30 or 40 people, the Twitter interface is useless. I tried then TweetDeck for a while and switched later to Seesmic Desktop: these interfaces allow to make groups and offer several one-click options to facilitate the editing and forwarding of posts. I build groups of 15 t0 20 people I really want to follow. I just glance at the "general" column when I am passing by, so I catch maybe 10% or less of what some people are writing. But if I see something interesting, I just have to click on the author's name to see all his preceding posts.

Now I have 2 accounts, one in English, one in French. With the English one, I have the privilege to follow the exchanges of the top people in my field: Jay Rosen, Jeff Jarvis, Dave Winer, Tim O'Reilly, Steve Buttry, Fred Wilson, Scott Rosenberg and others (some people like Clay Shirky are at the top of my list but don't use Twitter much). I translate what I find significant in French in my other account; this one is more oriented toward my professional community in Montreal: people I know, people I have worked with, people I have met in conferences. Links are growing with people from France, maybe 10% today.

I also follow some artists and writers, journalists, news sources.
I have to mention that I already follow around 200 blogs in my Google Reader. Twitter is just a next step, faster, more intimate. Some people have made the transition from their blog to Twitter, some use both, others stick to their blog. Sometimes a 140 characters with a link is enough. Most bloggers announce their posts on Twitter.

I spent maybe 6 months playing with Twitter before I really dived in, probably when I downloaded TweetDeck.

You remember the buzz you felt when you discovered your first forums and boards? Suddenly we were in contact with people all over the world. It was fun and exhilarating. Twitter did it again for me. I understand that "Twitter" describes at the same time a tool and a brand. I have no opinion about the brand. They are the leaders for now and they have created a wonderful tool that is evolving all the time. I love what the tool brings to my life: knowledge, people, intelligence, discovery, pleasure.
posted by bru at 9:55 PM on December 26, 2009 [6 favorites]


or rather, what bru said.. far better than I

30-40 people is about right if they're frequent, i'm upto 58 because most of whom i follow are not spewing tweets randomly so its manageable

have you tried lists yet as a way to manage topically?
posted by infini at 10:04 PM on December 26, 2009


So, yeah, twitter can be used for all kinds of things, but saying it's used solely by Smart People Thinking Important Thoughts is idiotic.
Yes. That is correct. It is a pity no one has said that: if they had, your post would be a well-timed rebuttal! In the context of this discussion, though, it comes across as a bit of a straw man/cheap shot.
posted by verb at 10:26 PM on December 26, 2009


I hate it when the media says a celebrity "has a Twitter".
posted by bwg at 4:34 AM on December 27, 2009


worse is using new 'blog' when you mean new post
posted by infini at 5:27 AM on December 27, 2009 [3 favorites]


I just want to know what happens to Twitter when someone comes out with something just like Twitter, but you know, 200 character spaces. Due to its limitations, it's an imperfect communication device and I've got to agree with some of the folks above, in a year or few, it will be an afterthought of the technological age.
posted by Atreides at 6:38 AM on December 27, 2009


Atreides, the reason they chose 140 characters is technical; SMS is limited to 160 characters and Twitter reserves 20 for header info. Going beyond 160 characters per packet breaks the whole mobile platform base, which is what makes it possible for you to read about $celebrity's breakfast while you are eating your own breakfast. There are other possibilities, but all of them would rely on custom apps and be far less universal.
posted by localroger at 8:27 AM on December 27, 2009


Blazecock Pileon: "There was a crowd feeding on wrong info--bad info--and worse feeding each other amplified, spurious data, with little skepticism or even basic fact checking. "

How is this different from the way people act generally? You see this behavior in everything from email forwards to small town gossip mills. I don't think this is a product of the medium. It's just what we do from time to time.

The idea that it can replace journalism, let alone supplement it, still makes me laugh.

I can sort of see it supplementing journalism in the form of people at the scene of the event giving updates (as in the crash on the Hudson). It can be useful in that sense, as a heads-up, but those individual updates can't approach the comprehensiveness of real journalism. They don't attempt to for the most part. They're for different things. If someone thinks that Twitter will replace journalism, they're completely missing its real strengths and weaknesses.

The way I use it, Twitter "supplements" journalism in the same way that RSS does. It points me to interesting content on the web.

boo_radley: "Here's one for you: #iloveitwhen he begg knowin i wont give it up n make him wait lol"

Luckily, Twitter is structured in such a way that I never have to see that person's updates. As has been observed elsewhere in this thread, the quality of post you find on Twitter is directly related to who you decide to follow.
posted by brundlefly at 9:05 AM on December 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


The whole thing got off to a bad start when it became known as tweeting, rather than, for example, taking a cue from quonsar and calling it "blorting". I would much rather read blorts than tweets. And preferably if the rule was they had to consist of Don Martin sound effects rather than this ludicrous pretense at actually saying something.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:19 AM on December 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


Thanks for the explanation, localroger. I'm sure I've read why there was a limitation, but it never stuck.
posted by Atreides at 10:50 AM on December 27, 2009


I can sort of see it supplementing journalism in the form of people at the scene of the event giving updates (as in the crash on the Hudson). It can be useful in that sense, as a heads-up, but those individual updates can't approach the comprehensiveness of real journalism. They don't attempt to for the most part. They're for different things. If someone thinks that Twitter will replace journalism, they're completely missing its real strengths and weaknesses.

I think it can replace spot news if we can reach a point where we have "trusted" people on Twitter who act as the filters, i.e. be the people who can and will do the legwork.

True story: I was talking to a journalist at the local paper on the phone when the Hudson River crash happened, and because I had Tweetdeck open I said "Hey, there's been a crash in the Hudson and it looks like there are survivors." She went, "Huh?" and we went on talking. Two minutes later, the story hits AP and now everyone in the newsroom is scrambling. IOW, I beat the wires by two minutes (and even then I was 10-15 minutes behind the buzz on Twitter).

We saw similar stuff during the pursuit of the Lakewood police shooting suspect earlier this month. There was a lot of noise, but there the filters (mainly news orgs) helped cut the cruft.

I don't see Twitter being a good tool for commentary or investigative journalism except in limited uses. But again, the RSS aspects of Twitter are useful there.

As for BP's complaints about journalism, you don't know how many massively inaccurate journalism articles I've read in the last month, especially in science writing. The Times (UK) had an article about how EEVL HFCS was by citing a paper noting that a 100% fructose diet was harmful. Problem, of course, is that HFCS is not 100% fructose. Compare that to Twitter users conflating the Air Canada webpage on the new international flying restrictions to be restrictions for ALL flights in the US, international or domestic. Journalism is no better than Twitter; the only real difference is that we laud the mostly white male occupation of journalism while posting tweets from lower-class African Americans to make a point of how stupid and inane Twitter users are.
posted by dw at 10:52 AM on December 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


localroger: "SMS is limited to 160 characters and Twitter reserves 20 for header info. Going beyond 160 characters per packet breaks the whole mobile platform base"

To me, this is probably the most infuriating part of Twitter. It's like someone looked at the obscene SMS market and said, "I want in on that!"

SMS messages are 140 bytes, and piggy backs on empty space in the communications between phone and tower about things like reception strength. And yet this medium costs a over dollar a kilobyte at a 20 cents per message rate.

So what does Twitter do? It seems clear to me their original plan was to make some sort of deal with carriers to sell them SMS traffic. Theory being that by changing SMS from peer to peer to broadcast, a substantial jump in messages occurs. They look at a market signal saying 'this bandwidth is expensive' and attempt to increase usage.

This sort of making things worse not better is the opposite of what I expect from technology companies, and I find it interesting what happened to them in the UK.
posted by pwnguin at 11:30 AM on December 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


several people I follow are like “human search engines.” writes Michael Hyatt telling the story of his 48 hours Twitter fast. via
posted by bru at 12:50 PM on December 28, 2009


Journalism is no better than Twitter; the only real difference is that we laud the mostly white male occupation of journalism while posting tweets from lower-class African Americans to make a point of how stupid and inane Twitter users are.

I think it's lame that you're trying to associate me — however vaguely — with racist attitudes because I have good and valid reasons for disliking the purely vain aspects of Twitter. That sucks, and shame on you for doing it.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:13 PM on December 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Blaze, I'm pretty sure he was referring to MikeMc.
posted by flatluigi at 4:29 PM on December 28, 2009


I think it can replace spot news if we can reach a point where we have "trusted" people on Twitter who act as the filters, i.e. be the people who can and will do the legwork.

If you know who to follow, we have reached that point. I follow a number of Australian journalists - some from the ABC, some from Crikey.com.au, some from Sky News, some from News Corp. These are people who are actually in the parliamentary press gallery, who are out there attending press conferences, interviewing people. And with major events, they've developed a habit of posting to Twitter before they file their actual "proper" reports. I've found out about things happening in seconds when online news sites have taken half an hour to file an update. The trust component, and people doing the legwork, is already there. It solves the problem I've always had with "blogs as journalism", whereby most bloggers aren't doing journalism at all, they're doing opinion. Twitter has put a useful tool in the hands of the people who are actually there on the scene.
posted by Jimbob at 10:07 AM on December 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


Blaze, I'm pretty sure he was referring to MikeMc.

And making both racist and classist assumptions while doing so...
posted by MikeMc at 10:07 AM on January 1, 2010


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