You know, I'm still not sure. Ross Mayfield has a list of excuses I could use and provides me with reassurance that my poking around on it is, indeed, worth my time.
I do think the the interruption tax is significant -- especially with the quickening of adoption. You use your social network as a filter, which helps both in scoping participation within a pull model of attention management, but also to Liz's point that my friends are digesting the web for me and perhaps reducing my discovery costs. But the affordance within Twitter of both mobile and web, that not only lets Anil use it (he is Web-only) is what helps me manage attention overload. I can throttle back to web-only and curb interruptions, simply by texting off.
To quickly explain Twitter, it's this thing where you update your current status or say something either via IM, SMS or the web. This means that your phone could very nearly vibrate all day long.
My friends have asked, "Why do you use that?" I've never had a very good response.
However, I've kept my Twitter network under control. I see others with about 50 people on it. I've kept mine down to six so far. I'm sure that won't last, but I've managed to keep it lean.
One fun thing I've noticed is that people in my network are using it to crowdsource, as in the image below.
I've been able to answer trivial or important questions raised by my network several times this week.
Oddly, I find that compelling. At least at the moment, my Twitter network is (for me) a small community. What's also interesting is that most of the people in my network have loaded up on contacts. So they've actually been finding the service unusuable.
I had Twittered something recently and later had this exchange with Jay Fienberg:
jayf: is this a general biz lunch--should Anastasia come too?
jayf: or something more specific
OurFounder: What you don't hang on my every twitter?
jayf: I need a SXSW filter
I had Twittered something earlier that day that would have given him that answer, but the traffic in his network from SXSW was so heavy that he lost value in the stream.
And here we arrive at Twitter's biggest challenge. It's UI is awful. In your personal page, there's a control to receive either SMS or IMs. I've never been able to get the IM interface to work reliably. While at the computer, I have no need to get the SMSs. But I can't easily shut them off temporarily.
It would also be nice to have selective filtering. If someone is involved in a specific crowdsourcing action - like SXSW - I'd like to read all that on the web or in IM, but I don't want to vibrate every second of the day. I'd also like to be able to highlight and perhaps even group my messages on the fly.
Today Jay is at home, so he's safe. I can get everything from him. Oops, now he just went to SpazzCon and is Twittering everything everyone says. I should move him to web-only, or perhaps even a temporary page of people at SpazzCon.
Lastly, Twitter is in no way minable. All status there is effectively lost after the event. It's harder to search than IM.
So I'm still conflicted about Twitter. I enjoy using it. I like telling Anastasia about apple soda or Prentiss about neotraditional development on the Washington Coast. But I'm still not taking it very seriously.
Slacker manager has an excellent post on making the most of Twitter.
(Twitter is certainly the front car on the hype-train this week!)
Blogged from the Sai Oak in Ocean Shores, Washington