Daniel Tunkelang has a couple of recent posts decrying what amounts to, at least in his eyes, the abuse of Twitter. (My word, not his.) For example, he writes in criticism of Loic LeMeur:
Twitter is a communication platform, not a marketing platform, and there’s a subtle difference.
But I’d disagree that there’s a bright line separating the two. In particular, I think most business blogs serve or should serve as both, in no small part because the areas of marketing and communication overlap heavily. And in my opinion Twitter (microblogging) and ordinary blogging aren’t that far apart.
Earlier this evening I posted praise of the BI expert Twitter community — of which Daniel is indeed a member — even while admitting that unlike other members, I “follow” too many Twitterers to actually keep up with their posts. Daniel refers to following patterns like mine as an attention Ponzi scheme, on the theory that people are following so many others in the pretense of paying attention to them, hoping to get real attention in return.
The first problem with that clever phrase is that Daniel is misusing the term “Ponzi scheme” to refer to an unrelated type of fraud. More seriously, it seems to assume that the only legitimate use of Twitter — or more precisely of following people on Twitter — is for full community engagement. I dispute that assumption. While I don’t follow tweetstreams in real time very often, I do occasionally dip in when I’m in the mood. And when I do, I prune my followee list for my own purposes.
I really wish the Twitter experience could be better filtered, into more manageable groups of people, topics, etc. But I’m not aware of any adequate software that does the job. (Tweetdeck is horrific, or at least was when I regrettably tried to use it, in that you can’t temporarily close a group without losing all the entries in it forever.) In the mean time, there is a multitude of worthwhile ways to use Twitter.