I rounded on Mr Whatley this evening.
It’s been a while since I’d had the opportunity to fire stuff at him and see how he responds. If memory serves, the last great conversation I had with him was about how he manages his online/offline persona. The continual dilemma I was having was how I should deal with stuff going on in my life personally (e.g. opinions, happenings, whatever) with the apparent openness going on ‘online’. Do you care what I’ve had for breakfast? No.
Perhaps one person on this planet does. My wife.
Ergo I shouldn’t be sticking that on Twitter. Or should I. And so on.
This conversation consisted of me firing a series of questions at James, letting him answer, picking up his answers and firing them back at him to test my reasoning and see what he thinks.
And this evening I decided to have it out with him about Twitter.
Twitter is good. I am delighted that it emerged as a medium — particularly since it was mobile based in the first place. I am also rather fond of remembering that I was one of the first — at least as far as I know — who thought that ‘twttr’ (that was it’s original name) read as ‘Twatter’, which is DEFINITELY not a good look if you’re familiar with the four letter derivative.
(By the way, here’s my first post discovering Twitter back in July 2006)
The name was later changed to the full domain of Twitter.com. Good.
This tweet from James set me off:
I got him online on instant messenger a minute after it popped up and indicated I was up for a challenging discussion.
“That tweet,” I told him, “Is 100% useless to me.”
“I don’t know who ‘adelemcalear’ is. I don’t know what fun night you’re talking about. You’ve just wasted my flucking valuable time.”
To be clear I wasn’t having a go at James per se. I was trying out the argument on him.
“Useless to you, yes,” James responded, rising to to the challenge. There’s a reason half the media bigwigs in London hang on his every word. (I hear he’s been asked to start doing social media related classes).
“No, that doesn’t work,” I contend, “You EARNED my attention. Enough so that I follow you [and thus, that Tweet wasted my time.]”
“Ah but someone who’s following me AND Adele has context,” James replied, “And also another user on Phreadz knows what I mean.”
I got a bit hot at this point and started typing in capitals.
“I SUBSCRIBED. I clicked YES. I want to hear from you,” I wrote, “[But your text doesn’t mean anything to me].”
James was right in there.
“All I can do is tell you how I use it – it isn’t necessarily the right way.. or the wrong way – it’s how I choose to use it – if what I did was shit – i doubt I’d have 1650 followrs…”
He makes a good point.
You see, I like Tweets that MEAN something to whoever’s reading. Even if you’re not interested, I think they should be fully formed.
Here’s another Tweet from James around the same time:
That was useful. Helped me get a bit of ambient ‘community’ by finding out what James was up to.
“My issue is every tweet you send out that’s irrelevant to EVERYONE doesn’t a little twitter angle die?”
“Doesn’t your reputation suffer ever-so-slightly? I’m not talking about YOU specifically, I mean the medium. 1650 followers, right? You just sent a tweet that you KNOW to be 100% irrelevant to 1646 of them.”
I began to get to the nub of what’s been really annoying me about Twitter and continued.
“You EXCLUDED 1,646 people [with that Tweet]. They couldn’t participate.”
“No, I didn’t. They COULD [participate].”
And I see his point.
You COULD look up and see what he was talking about. No doubt the ‘fun night’ is documented in James’ Twitterstream. And if you piece together the conversation between him and Adele, you’d begin to understand.
But isn’t it unhelpful to Tweet about stuff that is broadly irrelevant to most people?
James responded with this example.
“Ok – so I mentioned that I’m talking to you, @MartinSFP comes in with his tweet…”
James continued, “Someone else might chime in and ask what he said. Which sparks a further conversation spiraling out of my original conversation. So it’s organic.”
Yes. I’m getting that. But I think it’s all about context.
I prodded James on this point:
“If I tweeted the following message:
Arguing with @whatleydude
That is flocking useless, right?”
Anyone following me — unless they directly know James Whatley — is left wondering what I’m talking about. Highly unhelpful, surely?
James responds, “Right – which is why, when I remember – I try to add as much context as possible..”
I think it’s all about context.
And I think that irrelevant tweets should be wiped out. All of them.*
If you’re going to post a tweet, it should be a fully formed message that any of your subscribers should be able to understand. If you’re addressing a few friends, DM them. Or get them on IM. That’s the way ahead.
So thank you to James Whatley for listening, arguing and helping me shape my thoughts, finally.
And now for the news.
I’ll repost this in a moment in it’s own post — but you read it here first.
If you’re following the site, @MIReview, on Twitter, you’ve — now and again — got updates from me in there along with regular tweets every time we add a new article here.
I’m separating man from site.
MIReview will continue to deliver updates. I’ve updated it so you’ll just get the headline to every article we post, immediately we post it. Nothing else.
And you can follow me and learn all about my personal foibles and so on at the account @ew4n.
* Quote from Star Wars if anyone’s paying attention.