Twitter killed the blogger ?
Not that I was very persevering at it, but the advent of Twitter seems to have cut into my already dismal state of blogging. Most off-the-cuff remarks I might have considered putting into a blog , I now find myself finishing in 140 characters or less. An example would be the early morning (by Australian time) Champions League final game between Barca and Man U. that Barca won through some superb midfield play, which in other circumstances, I might have devoted a paragraph or three, I Twittered (Tweeted? Twat ?) about.
For lazy bums such as myself, 140 characters or less is just too tempting; get the rush of sharing your (half-formed) thoughts with the world out of the way quickly – thoughtful analysis and introspection be dammed.
Then there are other advantages: you have a list of people who follow you on Twitter, and with judicious calculations of whether they are online (or will be) or a knowledge of their interest, you know you will attract their attention to your Tweet (Twit?). With blogs, it has recently become a crap-shoot: your RSS feeds (wow, that sounds so 2005-6ish!) could be on the subscription list of hundreds (mine isn’t), but most people, I suspect, dont bother reading beyond the first 140 characters anyway. However, this could be a problem with Twitter too: there are those insanes that ‘follow’ hundreds and thousands, and I have no idea if they actually read a quarter of them. But at least you are assurred of being skimmed over by a few, versus the neglect of all.
On balance however, I am not a big fan of Twitter. So call me old-fashioned and stuck in the Web2.0 age, but here goes some reasons:
First, I have noticed that the overall productivity of quite a few of my favorite bloggers has declined since the advent of widespread Twitter usage. This is a personal loss – I do get their Twitter updates, but often it gets lost under a mountain of trivial stuff. Blogs – I can read at leisure. Twitter – early mornings, I cannot be bothered beyond the 5th, or the 2nd if I haven’t had my coffee yet. So I assume I am missing out on the richness of much rants, fisks, and other such goodies.
Second, the tendency of many Twitters (Twats? Tweeters ?) to go on a self-absorbed chronicling of their everyday mundane activities is often disgusting, not to mention boring as hell (ok, so that was the third soy-latte-chai you had today morning, now get over it and be a man by ordering a triple-shot Venti or whatever abomination).
Finally, while Twitter can be put to good use in quick dissemination of information (e.g during the Mumbai blast) – or for interesting updates on the go with iPhones (e.g. a few droll observations by the ever reliable gawker from a suburban pub tonite) etc., the total misuse or worse, cluelessness, of the platform by many is absolutely irritating. A well known blogger and journalist I was following for a while suffered from the worst case of verbal diarrhoea I have had the misfortune of reading – his opinion seemed to be that the 140 characters limit was a simple inconvenience, easily abrogated by breaking up a blog-sized posting (never pithy to begin with) into 30-40 Twitters!! I exaggerate of course, but not by much.
So unfollow these people you miserable Luddite twat, I hear the cry goes. Rest assured, my Twitter following is kept at the bare minimum: I think I follow a little more than 30 people (!) – four of them are celebrities, or people who I consider celebrities (Stephen Colbert, Kal Penn, Mindy Kaling and Samit Basu), a few were reciprocal followers (I have stopped this now, unless I know the person) and why they wanted to follow me in the first place I don’t know, a couple are institutional Twitters (e.g NIH, CDC) and I plan to expand into this soon, and the rest are people whom I used to follow on their blogs, some I have met personally as well.
As such, I don’t think that Twitter is a very bad thing, but hope it will be put to better use.
Anyhow, there ends a not very brief rant. And now, excuse me while I link this to an Twitter update 😛
: Even on a good week, less than 50% of putative blog posts actually get past the drafts stage.