Would someone please explain the value of Twitter?

March 4, 2009

This is a slightly different post for me. Thus far, I’ve attempted to provide some useful thoughts and views on real estate trends and techniques. And I plan on continuing to do so.

In fact, in a way, this post is a logical continuation of what I’ve been doing. That is: I want to figure out how to best convey useful information. Or, put another way, what information, in what format, best meets your needs?

A bit of background: I consider myself reasonably tech-savvy. In addition to a Certificate in Information Technology from the University of Virginia, I’ve got this blog. I’ve got a host of web sites, including Solutions3DHome.com, WeBuyFairfaxHouses.com, WeBuyLovedOnesHouses.com, my Long & Foster site WeSellVirginiaHouses.com, a site I maintain for a non-profit group, the Northern Virginia chapter of Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, NoVaCHADD.org, and others. I also have accounts with a number of social networking sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Spoke, and others. In short, I’m not a complete trogledyte.

Still, I’m old enough (and cranky enough) to remember when USA Today came on the scene and I wondered who’d bother reading those short, summarized, detail-deprived little articles. I was wrong. A lot of people did, and still do. Meanwhile, many old-line newspapers are dying.

Later came blogs. And I wondered who would be interested in reading the often-uniformed opinions of others. (Note: I’m not attacking blogs, and some contain a huge amount of useful information and some original research. But just as 90% of almost anything is garbage, at least 90% of the blogs out there aren’t worth the time it takes to read them.) I was wrong. Seems like, often, someone’s opinion of an event is more “important” (more widely read and quoted) than the actual event itself.

Then came phone texting. At least I understand the concept of sending short messages to someone else (or multiple people), though in many cases a quick (or even not-so-quick) phone call might work better.

And now there’s Twitter. Life reduced to 140 characters. Except, most of the tweets I’ve seen are meaningless…something. Same as for postings on Facebook. The latest entry on my Facebook “News Feed”: “G***** I****** is fixing salmon.” Or, this on one of my friend’s boards: “D**** is having a difficult time lifting her arms after her workout.” Or “S******** just got a new high score of 24000 in Bejeweled Blitz.”

But all that’s OK. Everyone’s just having fun. Now, though, we have U.S. Senators and Representatives at the State of the Union Address…twittering. Not listening. Not even pretending to listen. But pecking away innanities during a major event. These elected representatives certainly can’t be expected to read the legislation they vote for. They can’t even be expected to listen to the President for 60 minutes or so. And keep in mind that anyone they’re tweeting to has the same opportunity to listen to the speech.

Here are some samples (from CNN‘s write-up):

  • “Obama enters,” Blumenauer wrote after the House Sergeant-at-Arms announced the President’s entrance. “Crowd goes wild. Members taking pictures. McCain and Lindsey Graham. What a picture.”
  • Democrat Claire McCaskill, perhaps the most avid Twitter user in the Senate, was excited to see Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg appear following her pancreatic cancer operation. “I did big wooohoo for Justice Ginsberg [sic],” McCaskill wrote. “She looks good.”
  • “Aggie basketball game is about to start on espn2 for those of you that aren’t going to bother watching pelosi smirk for the next hour,” read a tweet on Texas Rep. Joe Barton’s page, referring to Texas A&M’s game against Nebraska.
  • And though many twittering Republicans cheered the new President as he entered the chamber, they weren’t necessarily fans of Obama’s speech. “Hold onto your wallet America,” Culberson quipped.

Is this really the best we can do?

There’s a time and place for everything. I can understand friends texting each other. I can understand friends sharing their latest video game accomplishment. Still: Life in 140 characters?