Twitter to live, but don’t live to Twitter

Is all the fuss about Twitter much ado about nothing, as Shakespeare put it? Is Twitter the crack of the Internet, as my friend Mark puts it? Is it a useful way of staying connected to friends, and keeping track of your thoughts — as Tara “Miss Rogue” Hunt has said? Or is it a waste of time designed for the self-obsessed and those with short attention spans or attention-deficit disorders? Is it all Robert Scoble’s fault?

The answer to all of those questions, of course, is yes. Except for the Scoble one; I don’t really have an opinion on that, although I will point out that the Third Law of the Blogosphere reads: “When in doubt, blame Robert Scoble.” I wrote a bit about the Twitter phenomenon a few days ago, in this post, and described it as “noise, but also signal,” and I’m sticking with that. may seem like a throwaway fad — the Hula Hoop or Pet Rock of Web 2.0 — and perhaps it is. But I also think it is another piece of the puzzle when it comes to understanding how we relate to each other in an online world, and how those relationship mechanisms are changing. Instant messaging and Second Life and blogs and Digg and Facebook are all pieces of that puzzle too.

Can Twitter be irritating? Of course it can. So can email, and so can the telephone or a conversation in a bar. But we still use or engage in those things. It’s worthwhile remembering that even Alexander Graham Bell never expected the phone to be used for business — he saw it as an entertainment device. I wonder what he would have thought of Twitter.

Further reading:

The always insightful Kathy Sierra at Creating Passionate Users has a great post looking at the benefits but also the downside of a “continuous partial attention” app such as Twitter and its potential effect on our lives.

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