Sunday, February 08, 2009

Social (Network) Niceties

I have been using Twitter for a while now, and have quickly passed from the "what do you do with it?" phase to the "what would you do without it?" phase. But there is a side of Twitter which irks me greatly.

On the upside, it is an extremely useful medium for acquiring snippets of information, links, pointers or "the mood" of a group of people, although it can sometimes take a bit of work to sift through the dross. As with anything to do with the Internet, the signal to noise ratio can be high, and you have to experiment with who you want to follow to make sure you don't get swamped with irrelevancies.

I use it for personal and professional stuff, and have Profile Peeks, searches and filters set up in my Twitter clients (I use Tweetie on my iPhone and EventBox on my Mac desktop) to try and streamline the information-gathering process. At the same time, the dynamic nature of the relationship each user has with Twitter means that you can reach many people in a single stroke with your Tweets and Re-Tweets, allowing you the opportunity to broadcast your own snippets of information or links to other sites.

But what about the downside? Well, it is not something I have had to deal with personally, since I do not have thousands of followers, but I have noticed a nasty side to Twitter when reading through the time line of someone like Stephen Fry (@stephenfry).

Just last night, for example, the wonderful @danspring wrote directly to Fry: "Stephen Fry has been removed - I'm no longer a follower. The man updates shit 24/7! Bye, bye @stephenfry".

This from a man whose Twitter content seems to consist almost entirely of football results and the price of plums in Sainsbury's... See, if you don't like Stephen Fry, why follow him in the first place? If it turns out that his Tweets are not as interesting as you thought, why not just quietly unfollow him? Why resort to calling him out publicly?

Then you have the idiot @stephen_fry who tries to scam Twitter users by passing himself off as Fry, and blaming Fry for being too touchy when he gets caught out. He now claims that he should be able to do whatever he likes because - in his words - he has a comprehensive education and he is dyslexic and, anyway, it was supposed to be a parody not an impersonation... yeeeeeahhhh right....

There are a number of fakers on Twitter, unfortunately, grabbing celebrity names as Twitter IDs and then passing themselves off as said celebrity? Why?

Of course, you have the opposite too - top quality Twittering from the genuine article whose identity is called into question. Take @harry_winston, for example. There are those who don't believe that a Labrador can post to Twitter.... clearly a misconception since, who else could be bothered to post on behalf of a 40KG mutt with a penchant for dead things?

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