I’ve been reading a lot of hype about Twitter, the service that offers what one colleague calls “IM on the web”. Essentially, Twitter lets you sign up for quick, instant, online updates from … well, anyone … on what you’re doing.
My biggest issue is that these consumer generated GPS services force us to operate in interrupt mode as if the latest Tweet making its way to my email, IM client or mobile phone is more important than what I am doing now. With so much media grabbing at small strands of our daily lives, I think being bombarded with atomized messages will eventually lead to consumer backlash and consumer media meltdown. Maybe it’s the digital immigrant in me speaking, but if I really cared that a fellow Twitter thought about his daily commuter, I’d ask. Or, as my digital native daughter says, that’s just TMI.
Weiner also notes that there are about 800,000 people current signed up, which seems rather low, but the hype remains strong enough that the brilliant Matt Dickman at Techno//Marketer feels compelled to ask, “Do you accept the fact that people are talking and you can’t listen?”, and to offer advice on how to manage too many messages (he follows 700 people on Twitter).
As a communicator, Twitter sounds great. I love the idea of dozens or even hundreds of fans jumping to for the latest news of me. I hope that your customers and fans do the same for you.
But as a grown-up person with a job to do, it’s a potential disaster. It’s easy enough to be distracted by competing — but welcome! — client demands; but being alerted to the every move of even a handful of folks — even highly intelligent and fascinating folks — would be about as helpful as hiring an intern to throw ping-pong balls at my head.
I bet I’m not alone.