It's all spinning wheels and self-doubt until the first pot of coffee.

Damn kids! Get off my web!

Scott Burkett, Stop Twittering and Go Solve a Problem: "Aside from aesthetically looking like something a 12 year old cobbled up, the entire tool seems utterly pointless to me."

For Scott, Twitter probably is pointless at first glance. And that's because no one's talking to him. Really, this should be a FAQ for all social media, to be read by all journalists and commentators: Listening in on random strangers' conversations is more likely to be boring than not, and that's what you're doing if you just go to twitter.com and start clicking around. But, to assume because you're bored that the service as a whole is boring is, again, to be one of the Blind Men with an Elephant.

Twitter becomes immensely interesting when it turns out that you've amassed a group of contacts who tend to run in similar circles as you, because even their off-handed remarks and random burps have a decent chance of surfacing something interesting or entertaining. When it's good, this sets up a nice ambient chatter like sitting in a coffee shop filled with just your kind of people.

This same "I'm bored, so it's boring" mistake has popped up again and again - applied to blogging, MMORPGs, social bookmarking, MySpace, what have you. Replace "bored/boring" with "confused/confusing" or "annoyed/annoying" and you've got my own early reactions to MySpace.

But, really, it's not addressed to you if there's a buzz and you're not groking it. That's a clue that you're probably missing something. Granted, people can be insane, but it really is more likely that you're missing something - even if it's just that there's a particular brand of entertaining insanity in progress to which you're not attuned.

Archived Comments

  • No, I'm pretty much missing out on the appeal of MySpace and Twitter, but that's because I'm an electronic hermit. Welcome to the Social? Screw that. Welcome to my front lawn, kids, and you're welcome to get off of it. :)

    All kidding aside, I think there's plenty of room for any kind of project people want to put together. I thought KDE and GNOME were silly for trying to recreate CDE, but they saw further than CDE. Had I been vocal, I might have dissuaded someone from contributing to the project. What kind of an asshole would I have been had I kept one of the main developers of these projects from developing? So, if Twitter, MySpace, Live Journal, or one of the hundreds of other social networks speaks to someone, by all means have fun. Me? I might check out Twitter. Most of the bands I like have MySapce pages now, so I think it'll be inevitable before I start a MySpace account.

    Heck, it took me a while before I started up my Last.fm account, so one thing at a time. :)

  • Oh, and my lovely corporate overlords think Twitter might lead to dating or personals, so they've helpfully blocked it. They're so thoughtful.

  • Interesting post, but I should clarify a few things.

    First, I never used the words "boring", "confused" or "annoying" in my post. I simply stated my own dislike of the tool. Twitter is a very polarizing tool - if you find value in it, great. But neither of us are alone.

    Second, I am a big MMO guy, and use plenty of other social media tools (hell, my last two startups were community/social media plays.)

    Third, the whole point of my original post was to point out the very old business trap that a particular young entrepreneur was about to fall into.

    If you get value out of Twitter, great. That wasn't my point.

    Cheers. Scott

  • @CraigM: Being a digital hermit, now that's a perfectly fine and reasonable excuse to miss out on Twitter and MySpace. I'm mostly an introvert in person, but somehow am semi-extroverted online to compensate. Some people don't need that. :)

  • @Scott Burkett: No, you didn't use “boring”, “confused” or “annoying” - though others have. What you said really prompted me to comment on what I've seen happen over and over again, so it's not just (or even mostly) you.

    Though, when you write "stop worrying about creating mindless tools to keep track of everything your friends are doing, and start solving real problems" - I have to respond that keeping track of everything your friends are doing is a real problem some people want solved. :) Now, whether there's still room in that market beyond Twitter... well, I dunno. I have a hunch yes, that they're onto something big - but I'm not personally putting money down on it.

    On the other hand, the point I take your post otherwise is that just being a copy-cat isn't enough. Twitter's addressing a problem for some people. That problem might have room to be solved more effectively. But, if you can't figure that out, or if the problem's really not that deep, then yeah: Find something else to make.

  • Twitter is in no way useless, simple maybe but not useless. I agree completely. It seems that their is a distinct lack of patience among the web going public when it comes to certain technologies. If it doesn't immediately wow them with AJAX then it serves no purpose.