As a Twitter user, a common comment I hear from non-users, or those who have dabbled but can’t commit, is a variation along “what’s the point of hearing inane babble from strangers? if I want that, I’ll ride the TTC/hang out in coffee shops near loud talkers/stand at a street corner like an absent minded busker without a music maker”.
It’s a point that isn’t quick or easy to counter but given my general stubbornness and willingness to argue (cajun-style), it’s one that I’ve been pondering for quite some time. Building on my esteemed colleague Tim Middleton’s post on why Twitter not just an ADD-time sucker or a late night host’s punchline (seriously—Twitter is like the new Brangelina for lazy comics), I’m suggesting the value of Twitter will be truly apparent once location of tweets becomes accessible.
Twitter works because it draws people together who would never in a million years have found each other otherwise. After building your community of followers and followings (often based around either social or professional affinities), you get a stream of rich content including:
- clever quips
- dialogue, and for those with a yen for eavesdropping
- a view on what your group is saying to each other and others
Is some of it inane? Yes. Heck yes. Some of it is totally worthless—but what kind of human interaction is 100% valuable to all and sundry? I like to imagine my conversations with friends and colleagues offer meaning for all involved but there are definitely rambling sentences that slowly trickle off to settle in the land of things not worth finishing (you know—where your knitting projects live).
The what—the part that matter to you—balance that which doesn’t. This will become even more true when you have the ability to accurately determine where these tweets are coming from. According to Business Insider, this is on the agenda for Twitter.
With location tracking, the quality of niche community building and targeted marketing/discussions expands exponentially—and allows for easier transitions to offline meetings as well.
People who don’t get Twitter don’t understand that you’re not just following people you already know. You are finding people that you want to know because you can work together…it’s like Book Camp Toronto. It’s many-to-many interactions, rich development of relationships and communication between people who are into the same stuff and eventually, in the same area.
Do I care what someone ate for breakfast? Not really. Does that stand up as a valid reason to not use Twitter? Nope—unless you are also willing to paint all human communication with the same brush of pointlessness.