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Archive: 21 January 2007

The Twitters

After a couple of months of fairly determined avoidance, I finally joined Twitter a week ago.  I’m already thinking about leaving.  Have been for the last six days, in fact.

There are two easily-explained reasons why I want to just walk away.  The first is that in order to have a public comment stream and also be able to share more private messages with my friends, I have to have two accounts.  If I could post friends-only messages to an otherwise public account, then I’d only need one account.

And why would I use a public commentary service for private information?  Because it is a very good way of keeping my friends informed of where I am, where I’ll be headed next, what’s happening in my family life, and so on.  That’s not public information, to my mind.  Using Twitter is a lot easier than setting up a private blog to distribute the same information.  (Side note: if you had a friendship request with me declined, this is why.  No, I don’t hate you.)

The second reason is that I don’t have a way to filter out people who are swamping my Twitter stream.  Yes, I’m very glad that you have so much to say, but you’re burying the other people who are just as interesting but not quite so loquacious, obsessive, or just plain bored.  In my current short list of friends, I have two that are, um, extra-expressive.  (Both women, in fact.  No comment?)  I want these people to remain friends so they can get my updates, infrequent though they may be.  I also want to see what the rest of my friends and followed are saying.  How to resolve it?

Sadly, “leave” only filters their stuff out of phone and IM updates, neither of which I use.  It doesn’t take them out of the RSS feed nor the web view, both of which I use.  Is the solution to de-friend them and let them just follow me?  Sure, for the public account.  For the private personal-info account, that solution fails; they’ll stop getting my updates.  I just wish there was a way to say “this person is my friend, but I’d only like to get updates from them through the following services”.  That way I could set the chatterers to show up in the web view and nothing else, thus restoring some sense of balance and diversity to my RSS feed and thus to Twitterific.

Then there’s the bonus reason I want to throw the whole thing into my bit-bucket:  the way people are using Twitter right now, it’s rapidly becoming the most inefficient and unusable version of IRC ever.  Look, people, if you want to chat, then get a chat room.  You know?

I know, Twitter is new and growing.  Feature sets and social conventions are still in flux and expected to evolve.  Personally, I feel like there’s the kernel of a really good service in there, only not quite the one they’re offering.  I’m not saying Twitter is useless or somehow wrong: it clearly provides something that some people want, and it does what it does fairly well.  I just have the sense that there’s a similar service with a different focus that would provide something that some other people want, myself among them.  Anyone else feel the same way?

January 2007
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