Friday, September 04, 2009

Twitter virtues and vices

After some weeks of Twitter usage, I came to the conclusion that it's a good networking tool and I do not regret opening my account. Some technological faults however are preventing me from fully enjoy the experience.

Rapid conversation: +1
Communicating via twitter is like sending phone text messages: the conversation flows and there is a need to rephrase to get to the point quickly. Shortened words and messages are normal as in informal sms communication.

Following @weierophinney: +1
It is often said that people who get things done have no time to tweet, but it seems that Twitter does not kill productivity if used correctly. And if it's the lead developer of Zend Framework, it must means that it's more a matter of choice: reserving a bit of time once a day to answer questions and to formulate ones it's not an action that will kepp you from doing real work. In fact, it will kill you if you keep staring at the screen trying to read every new tweet, but it is different from rss: you don't have to check them all.

The space to say what you want: +1
Many times, during the day, I think about some issues or ideas which does not earn a blog post on their own, but must be kept somewhere "just in case". This is pure tweet material and my timeline is full of thoughts which will could become posts or projects, or simply remain there to give evidence to myself that I always triaged Google Reader entries.

Reply system: -1
Whenever you reply to someone, you start a new tweet. There is no association with which one you are responding to, and neither quoting is present.
For instance, if you are replying to a tweet which has been posted some hours ago and it's not in the top of the timeline, probably no one will understand what are you talking about. Moreover, replies to other people obscure other tweets which might contain some useful links or information.

Limited web interface features: -1
If you want to improve your user experience, you must consider a third party client. I cannot find how to retweet a link in the web interface (the button might be somewhere) as a Tweet has only two ones: favorite and reply. I don't know what happens when I push the former but a star lights up.

Filtering: -1
The only possibility for searching is a full text one with tags such as #php or @giorgiosironi. This is not a problem since Google works in the same manner. Online filtering is unfortunately not possible: I'd like to simply concentrate my timeline when I consult twitter and I have to read all the noise from people who is replying to someone else.

Summing it up, there are pros and cons to manage a Twitter account. I now think that having one is a good move for enhance your networking, since it's much more simple to contact someone with a short tweet than via email (except when is down, but it does not result in a -1 since outages are far less frequent than in the past). If you can tolerate the limitations of a system based on unorganized 160 characters messages, you should definitely register. And if you like this blog, remember to follow me.
Any other panegyric or rant?

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