Twitter’s sudden celebrity will soon become a fight for relevance

Twitter is a way to broadcast via your cell phone or computer. What do you broadcast? Whatever is immediate and local. You disclose your thoughts, observations and whereabouts — and anything else you can fit within a 140-character limit text message. Here’s an unofficial Twitter wiki. Its Press and Media section has links to some of the latest buzz on this social media app.

Twitter appeared quickly and will, in my opinion, flame out just as fast. Once it has died back down to a glowing ember, I suspect it will reside where it seems most suited: with younger students and others with plenty of time, a big friends list, and a high opinion of their own text-messaged voices.

Because your cell phone can get deluged with “Tweets” (one attendee of the SXSW conference in Austin reported receiving 3,000 of them during her time there), it appears that most people finally turn the mobile feature off. Who of us, after all, has an unlimited text message plan and a high tolerance for deleting messages as fast as they arrive?

But turning off the ability to receive these messages on my cell phone takes away one of Twitter’s major appeals: The ability to “microblog” from anywhere, and read other people’s insights dashed off from whatever house party or night club you weren’t able to get to.

I’m always looking at these phenomena for how they might bubble up into the generations of working stiffs who are hoping technology can aid their productivity — or ease their workday the way a smoke break used to when more people smoked.

This technology has me curious, but unless there is some improved way to filter the spamming effect I don’t see Twitter as surviving the battle for mainstream relevance.

April 17, 2007 — An update:This weekend I succumbed. I needed to experience Twitter for myself, especially since I was reading intriguing comments on other people’s blogs, including this one. Keeping the mobile component turned off, I created this account: (yes, I dropped my name’s trailing “e” — it’s a silly Monty Python joke).


I’ll do a new entry soon with my thoughts.

5 Replies to “Twitter’s sudden celebrity will soon become a fight for relevance”

  1. If ever there was a technology solution in search of a need, this is it. Here’s what worries me: That the segment of consumers “with plenty of time, and a high opinion of their own text-messaged voices” will grow.

  2. I had totally the same thoughts about Twitter, until I started using it! Now I must admit I wouldn’t want to live without it, and even get annoyed when the site is down, which is has been a couple of times in the last couple of days.

    As someone who only texts people when necessary, I didn’t think I’d like it, but it’s highly addictive and it’s great to hear what friends old and new are up to, and you really do pick up on things you wouldn’t normally pick up on – if someone’s down, up, in trouble, etc. – it’s a new way of communicating and I don’t think people will want it removed.

    For example, one person I haven’t spoken to for a long time I’ve managed to help a couple of times just because I’ve seen what they’re trying to do, while they’re trying to do it and before they would even consider posting on a forum or whatever.

    I don’t have the phone alerts switched on, I realise that would be annoying, but I don’t think Twitter’s gonna die like you say it is. Unless they don’t get their servers sorted out…

  3. Thanks for your perspective, Steve. I find it interesting that you have the phone alerts switched off but still say you wouldn’t live without it. Clearly I need to give this a second look!

  4. Well, as I said, I don’t text that much, and I can’t think of anything more annoying than a stream of texts coming through in the few minutes that I am not in front of the computer with ‘urgent’ messages like “I just farted”.

    But, it is addictive, and I’ve certainly grown a few friendships with people I knew but didn’t really /know/. It’s like a stage just below blogging. It’s not important enough to blog, but it’s important to you.

    Amazing things grow out of conversations – if only the whole world talked a lot more, there’d be a lot less fighting.


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