Wednesday, December 3, 2008

What do you think about Twitter? I'll tell you what I think about it...

Obviously, Mumbai terrorist attacks were twitter’s moment. The mainstream media and all the world is aware of the fact that the most of the fastest updates, information and footage was delivered through twitter users. So let’s see what else twitter has to offer.

The first time I heard about twitter was during Steve Garfield's lecture as a guest speaker in our class, but it’s after this terrible incident that it really got my attention.

I have to say that going through Twitter did not reveal anything special to me. The most revealing thing was that I really didn’t find anything interesting or innovative about it even though everybody is talking about it.

I’m sorry for my ignorance, but I still cannot figure out what is so remarkable about it. I don’t think it is a new tool, it has a similar function as RSS feeds and maybe it has some elements of a social network, but there are dozens of great social networks available.

Although, going back to the Mumbai incident, I admit that is a proof that there has to be something attractive about it: there must be a reason why so much information and footage was spread through it, data that some mainstream media had to rely on. But I don’t see the difference on using twitter to spread information, than many other similar technological tools, such as Flickr, or newspapers’ websites which send text messages of breaking news to your cell phone, or any other media. My point is, I repeat, I don’t see anything really innovative about it. I believe it is just a new tool, which became an online trend as many technological tools that in the past had a similar effect but then lost it.

What I notice going through Boston Globe’s and New York Times twitter feeds, confirms that all I need is my Google reader to get the exact same information: the headlines of the day. Although I have to admit, they are obviously not doing a good job about it and they could take more advantage of it. I guess twitter is supposed to be used more as a two way conversation, than just getting the headlines. Steve Garfield’s twitter feed is much more interesting than the Globe’s, which does not speak very well of them, considering they are major media organizations.

And once again when debating about the use of citizen journalism, the same controversial issue comes up: who is posting this information and why should I believe them? Won’t it take me more time to actually verify if this is true than just reading the Washington Post website’s updates? I think that is a point to keep thinking about.

For now, I guess I’ll stick with my RSS feeds, thank you for the offering.

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