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March 18, 2009


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All I have to say to this post, David is:

Amen, amen, AMEN!!!!!

It's great stuff like this that reminds me, yet again, why your blog is one of only three that are bookmarked in my favourites, to make sure I check them every day for new posts. You rarely let me down.

Thanks for a terrific post!

So let me get this straight: there is somebody right in front of them in some apparent level of distress, however minor, and their first reaction is to tweet about it? Good thing it wasn't a major heart attack or something. I can just see the subsequent tweets: "O my, he's writhing on the floor now"..."Uh oh, he seems to be going a little blue, not good"...it's just creepy.

I'm all for social media and I spend a ton of time online because it makes my work and life easier and - through things like this blog - all the more engaging and entertaining. But sometimes it's like people are so caught up in their tweeting-bluetoothed-throwing-non-existent-snowballs-and-buying-non-existent-martinis virtual world that they think they are only spectators in the real world. Just cut it out, people! Cut it out right now!

This is why my Facebook page nags me, "You have 6 event invitations and 12 other requests."

I was thinking about Twitter on the long commute to work this morning, and my conclusion this morning is that Twitter is today's Beanie Babies. The only difference is that we're spending time and mental space to collect idiotic tweets, instead of spending money and shelf space for the Beanies. One of my morning DJs reached a similar conclusion, saying that all Twitter does is show the world how incredibly boring your life is.

And David, I agree with you about community--mostly. I have found a few exceptions: a new sort of friendship with several people scattered about the world, people I've never met; electronic penpals, really. Knowing them through conversations, online and sometimes even on the phone, has expanded my perspective and does enrich my life. Those of us who follow your blog regularly and who participate are another community of sorts--you and I, for example, had never met until last year's CCC in Chicago, and remember what a delight that was? But the true delight was in the meeting--in finding out our misconceptions about each other and, for me, discovering your quirky introspective ways.

The problem with Twitter is that it's too brief; it allows no opportunity for relationship to develop. It's like trying to know someone through what they scrawl in a restroom stall.

And that moron who didn't call for assistance for that distressed speaker is pretty much the kind of moron I expect to find in Twitter, for the most part. The Shel Holtzes of the world are the exception. Shel's tweets may in fact impart something I would value; but I won't know because I refuse to look. I'll read his blogs, listen to his podcasts; but I refuse to read his writing on the stall.

Don't know if you heard, David, but yesterday the NBA's Milwaukee Bucks had to establish a team policy against players twittering during games. Because some professional athlete (or should I say, jackass?) on the team did just that.

Presumably the player was hoping Robert Scoble had some ideas about how to solve the Clippers' zone defense?

So here's an irony for you. In response to this post, Kristen sets herself up on twitter! Too funny.

The irony of the post is that it's so well written, it was worth reading!

Writing stuff worth reading is hard work. Thanks for making the effort.

Thanks for your kind words about my writing, Seth. Means a lot. But come now: What SHOULD they have done for that travel-weary speaker ....

>>But come now: What SHOULD they have done for that travel-weary speaker ....<<

You paint the picture that this was the audience's only response. How do you know that when the speaker abruptly took a seat in the middle of his presentation, alarming the audience, that maybe....

*....a group didn't rush to the front of the room and administer aid - CPR, an emergency tracheotomy, fashion a splint out of a couple of laptops, have him breathing from a paper bag, etc.

*...another, more spiritually minded group, formed a prayer circle asking for divine intervention

*...another contingent started snapping cell phone pictures for possible lawsuit implications or to angle for movie rights

*...several made 911 calls

*...a group from Las Vegas started laying odds on if he would pull through or not


Shel just reported on one aspect of the event. You failed in your journalistic duties by only finding out and reporting one aspect from one source.

My J-school prof "Mad Martha" would chew you a new one for that!


Oh, heavens, Craig.

Update on a practical Twitter application. We are developing a new web site for a client and are under a really tight deadline. Yesterday one of the two art directors developing flash animations for the site had his Mac get hosed.

He sent out an email letting the team know he was losing almost a day of development time but indicated he would find another Mac and have something early today (Sunday). The reality is that he lives in Cincinnati, the other art director is in Indianapolis and I'm located in Springboro, about 40 miles from Cincy, 140 miles from Indy.

I was offline yesterday afternoon and just picked up the email thread about the situation as well as the query from the other art director if he should work overtime to complete the missing animation or not. I left a VM with the one AD asking him to give us an update on this ability to complete the animation and then sent him an email with the same message.

Since I will be away from the computer most of the afternoon, I directed him to either call my cell or send me a tweet, which is connected to my cell so I will get a text message of the update.

If I/we had been more forward thinking, we could have set up a project-specific Twitter account and everyone associated with this situation could be following that account and could've been kept informed as it developed.

I can see the same thing being accomplished using Jott. I think I'll propose that we integrate project specific Twitter accounts and/or Jott accounts.


I've had a history of spending too much time on the computer. Why, just this morning, I haven't even eaten breakfast and I'm still checking emails and other nonsense. I'm cutting back, though, and going out a lot more, and it has been liberating to do so. I've actually recently read that Vonnegut book, and another quote I underlined from that same essay is the one on becoming:

"But it's you who should be doing the becoming, not the damn fool computer. What you can become is the miracle you were born to be through the work that you do."

@ Craig: Sounds smart.

@ Jonathan: Thanks.

I use internet a lot but some things I really cannot get into. Linked, facebook, twitter and myspace. Booooring...

I know it's like a religion to some people.

First time here (via Seth) - excellent post.

I've suddenly, and thankfully, lost my urge to tweet something today. Many thanks for the antidote, David.

I posted something similar a month or so ago - not thoughtful like yours, just my usual question asking. But I liked my headline: "You can't break wind online"

Eva--it's not like a religion to some people, it's like a LIFE.

Welcome to Seth's readers. I'm glad to have you here.

You distilled amorphous thoughts/feelings that had been floating around my brain ever since I heard of jurors tweeting a court trial and surgeons tweeting the progress of a major operation.

Found your blog through Seth Godin - and have bookmarked it to return often :-)

All success

P.S. - btw, I'm an avid Tweeter (won't say 'twerp', though) and tweet as @drmani

Nail on head David!
Excellent read.

Computers and all this social-connecting by not really connecting, just using digital words and typed often with a wry smile sucks.

You make better, more eloquent points. And I'm drawn to participate because, whether I like it or not (not), this computery communication is part of our current mythology, dream woven, as it is, with all the nightmares of scientific oblivion lurking at the edges.

like anything in this life we have become acustom to dogmas and memes that psychologically condition us to believe in stuff that in the end lose their true meaning from the original thought in the first place that created it.

social sites are about connecting on a deeper level so that you can congruently put yourself in a position to enjoy not only the personal things but the professional attributes that come with it.

A guy named Ferrari said it best, " a little bit of this, not to much of that." what happens is to much minutia and too much obssession on stuff that has lost meaning when it never really had a chance to bring meaning in the first place.

facebook, twitter and whatever social site that exists is about collaborating thought for a purpose that may not have one in the end, but at least it is not something that is obsessed over and takes away from others things that may matter more.

Love this blog and can't get enough of it.

Also agree beyond question with this post.

But does anyone see the irony here?

See it? I BE it!

Unbelievable, yet totally believable. I don't know what else to say. Still aghast.

A long time ago (maybe 15 or so) I needed to print a letter in a hurry when I was moving into an office space. I worked to connect my laptop and printer to print out the letter. After struggling for 20 minutes to get everything working (and I use Macintosh computers) I remembered that I had a typewriter and that would be SO much easier to use in a hurry.

Since then I just remind myself that all this technology is not necessarily better than the 'old' way of doing things.

Phones and typewriters still have their place in life.

Seth Godin doesn't tweet. Duh.

Funny post. Don't let a few fanatics ruin the whole game for the rest of us.

I don't agree. Social networking has a lot of value. They help build communities. There is also a lot of fart to go around though.

@Michael Werner, this post wreaks of irony.

Twitter's been around for 3 years. How long have humans been talking to one another?

Vonnegut is (was) a curmudgeon with a flair for pointing out the obvious and ironic. But he was also a great original thinker and I agree with him on so many levels - thank you for making the connections (no harm to Shel either)

Don't shoot the "tool", so to speak.

There will always be idiots who use a tool or product or service in an "unproductive" way.

We should just be glad that we are not the sons/daughters/spouses of the brilliant folks who would tweet an emergency.

But then again, think about this:

1) Speaker falls/flops/sits down
2) 30 people rush to his side - 5 of them claim to be doctors
3) You see the organizers and many others calling 911
4) A crowd is already suffocating the poor soul who needs breathing room
4) You are not stupid enough to get up and go closer
5) So you send out a tweet!

See, when put in perspective, it doesn't sound all that bad :-)

Just playing the devil's advocate ;-)

- Ravi Jayagopal

How many great novels were written in the first ten years after the invention of the printing press?

How many babies were born under an electric light in the first ten years after edition invented electricity?

How many people were flown to a hospital within ten years of the Write Brothers first flight?

How many lives were saved in the first ten years after the invention of penicillin?

To ask how many books have come from blogs is to completely miss the potential. To complain about what hasn't come from social networking misses the big picture. The world rarely changes that fast after a big breakthrough nothing happened in the first ten years of those great leaps froward listed above, but our would is unrecognizable to some one alive before them.

Ironically, some of my most popular tweets and blog posts have come from walking around my neighbourhood. When I saved a bee at the local pool, it caused a stir. When I was bitten by a spider, it created a sensation! Nice article. Acerbic, but truthful. P. :)

"We'll recieve (sic) no Moby Dicks from Second Life"

- say it ain't so, Joe!

I've been telling people for a while now to check out Seth Godin's blog, and one of the main reasons I like to read his posts is because he often turns his readers on to other worthwhile bloggers to read, like you.

Enjoyed your thoughts about Twitter. Yep, I agree ... you hit the nail smack dab on the head with this one.

Thanks, Carlo. Nice to have you here. Nice to have all of you here.

Found this post through Twitter (feel free to make the irony remark)-- good reminder to stay grounded in reality in the midst of this social network mania. However, as another commenter remarked, don't ignore the vast potential of the Web and user-generated content (like blogs and microblogs). For this, we need only remember that this very site is a blog that allows you to share your opinions with thousands of people across the globe who you've never met. Twerp, indeed.


All points well taken. Real life, computer life. It's a balance. And one I note that it's one we're ALL struggling to find. Last night I was at a party, and talking to a bunch of early-twenty-somethings, who were full of worries about Facebook--beginning with photos they published up there when they were 17, and culminating in a belief that "a lot of people LIVE on Facebook."

She asked almost hysterically: "Where are we going to build our life stories if we're living our lives on Facebook?"

A balance: between getting stories in the world and telling stories online.

Great post - I particularly like the Kurt Vonnegut quote and the proposed test for evaluating virtual vs. physical communities.

Your comment about the Facebook user's exclamation reminds me of an opinion piece I heard recently on NPR's All Things Considered by Peter Sagal (host of Wait, Wait: Don't Tell Me!), on "Do 'Childish Things' include 'Lord of the Rings'?" (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=102250008)

"Let me say, from the experience of years, that I'm not sure this is good for us. Real people — maybe you've heard this — are slightly more difficult to handle than imaginary people. Even more than Balrogs; and Balrogs, as everybody knows, are a pain. I'm raising children now — a challenge, by the way, on which J.R.R. Tolkien sheds no light at all — and I see them drawn to the flickering, dimly lit holes leading from our house to the other worlds — the TVs and movies and computer games — and I can understand the almost overwhelming urge to crawl through. But I also wonder if, like me, when they grow up and have to say farewell to childish things, they'll have nothing real to let go of."

BTW, have you actually taken the test you propose - spending a day online vs. a day walking around your neighborhood - and if so, what was the result, with respect to relative impact on dinner table conversation?

David, does it qualify for Kurt's farting around rule that I have just spent 20 minutes reading your post, comments, and penning this reply? Or do I have to fart around outside? I'll do that. Better for my housemate.


Reading MY blog is definitely farting around. Now, go outside and fart around some more.


The Kitty Genovese case was also a problem of her neighbors' obsessive desire to tweet about it. Clearly the one person who used twitter was to blame, rather than the other people in the room.

And to compare blogs to Moby Dick isn't fair as they're different mediums. What sporting event in the past 10 years has been as good of a read as Moby Dick?

Sorry to harp on this, but the logic behind your arguments just doesn't work. There are many valid reasons to not embrace Twitter, but this one example isn't enough and doesn't seem to be indicative of broader problems.

it's a similar problem to youtube / americas funniest home videos of old... people recording something via camera rather than actually getting out from behind it to help. i mean sure the person might have died, but i got 1,000,000 views on youtube!

"Do you know what a twerp is? When I was in Shortridge High School in Indianapolis 65 years ago, a twerp was a guy who stuck a set of false teeth up his butt and bit the buttons off the back seats of taxicabs."
I thought a twerp was someone who spends too much time on twitter?

Good point Joan.

Google gets into the messy business of telecommunications. I don’t mean to say Google’s day job is easy but the telecom market gets it involved with government agencies like the FCC on a more regular basis. Like many other large telcos the company will have to spend more and more money lobbying and technology differentiation may be less important than government regulations in ensuring future success.

to me, twitter serves no purpose and is an outdated platform. Google and Facebook are much better and deeper in usability/ market. I don't see twitter being popular past 2012.

its the smart phone that has brought the main increase to social networking.

We rarely see blogs which are entertaining and this one definitely comes under it.

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