What I learned from my Twitter experiment

Two weeks ago, at the end of my latest post exclusively about Twitter, I announced that I would let you know the outcome of a little two-week test. In it, I temporarily opened my “Tweets” to the world, so to speak. My posts became part of the Public Timeline of Twitter posts. In that time I’ve continued to enjoy what I like about Twitter: Being able to keep in touch with friends who are on it. But I have to say the foray into the public conversation didn’t amount to much more than that.

I didn’t know what to expect, but here were a couple things that I considered possibilities:

  1. Some people might pick up on references to my more provocative blog entries (such as this one, about mobile communication and the Virginia Tech shootings) and respond directly through Twitter
  2. Others would actually click through to those entries, using URLs that I inserted in the Tweets, and possibly even comment on the blog entry

Someday this might happen for someone. Neither did for me. I suspect that my Tweets were too diffused among the millions of others. Without a way for users to filter by preferences or topics, my Twitter posts became a few needles in an ever-growing haystack. Without context, these “microblog posts” zoomed past and faded without incident.

Well, almost. The day after I began the experience, I received the following:

  • My one and only visit to this blog that I can directly trace as a click-through from the Twitter public timeline (sheesh!)
  • A single message from an “admirer” of my golden (albeit truncated) prose: A spammer trying to get me to visit his site where he was selling something (Does my prose look like I need Viagra?)

It’s not that I was expecting the sort of bank run that Digg.com got when its users started posting an illegal DVD unlock code. But I was hoping for something of interest.

Especially, I was wondering if I could expand my online social network, as I have recently with activities in LinkedIn. I’ll be writing more about LinkedIn in a future post. As for Twitter, starting today I’ll be henceforth mum on the topic.

If you want to reach out to me in a public network, you’ll just have to join my growing — and quite interesting — LinkedIn connections list. Here is my Profile: http://www.linkedin.com/in/jefflarche

Postscript: I just went on the Public Timeline and was astonished to see a friend’s Tweet: Way to go, Jazyfko! I hope your cold is getting better.

Update on May 26, 2007: One of the more promising applications of Twitter so far is the recently launched Truemors, the latest start-up by Guy Kowasaki.


4 Replies to “What I learned from my Twitter experiment”

  1. Jeff, thanks for the wishes of better health. yes, I do feel better, thank you, nothing that modern day medicine won’t fix :).

    I am glad you told me about seeing me on Twitter Public timeline. Cool.

    I do enjoy twitter, I have a lot of traffic from it to my blogs. Did you setup your rss feeds to be auto published on your twitter?

    Build up your twitter network, invite new friends, participate, digg others requests, and they will come.

    All the best,
    Marek (jazyfko)

  2. Perhaps the problem with Twitter, for this purpose, is that it presents itself as a social network. That doesn’t, of course, mean that people don’t network on it for other reasons, but I’m not sure that everybody who logs on is interested in being marketed to. Even if my curiosity is piqued, I know that my “sales resistance” is higher than usual when I’m in what I perceive as a leisure environment. (As if such a thing exists anywhere on the net these days.)

    That’s why myspace depresses me — that volatile mix of cruising and self-promotion seems unhealthy to me.


  3. Of course you are right, Holly. As I was walking to work just now I was listening to a podcast on mediated social spaces, aka, MySpace, etc. The two biggest problems that kids on the network face are (a.) “dealing with” those who would lord power over them, such as parents, teachers, potential employers, and (b.) predators. The author of this paper pointed out, to my surprise, that the most common predator isn’t a pedophile, but the far more common “predators” of spammers, scammers and marketers. It’s sobering to be called a predator, but I understood her point. And yours. Thanks for your thoughts.

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