Q: “What is the point of Twitter?” A: …

Someone recently posted on my Facebook wall: “Paul, I don’t understand, and fear I may be too old for all this already… but… what exactly is the point of twitter?”

I can come up with at least nine answers. I’m sure you can come up with more:

  1. It’s a great way to publish to mobile devices;
  2. it’s a social networking tool to make contacts and carry on conversations;
  3. it’s a way of discovering new information (through tips and leads);
  4. it’s a great way to follow what’s happening through your mobile (set Twitter up to send you mobile updates)
  5. It’s a way of organising people
  6. It’s a great way of reporting from a live event or other occasions when you only have your phone
  7. You can aggregate a number of twitter feeds to one collective feed of what a group of people are doing
  8. You can push an RSS feed into twitter, creating a mobile/social network update
  9. For bloggers, it’s a good place to put thoughts and ideas that are so brief you wouldn’t normally blog them

Any more for any more?

30 thoughts on “Q: “What is the point of Twitter?” A: …

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  4. Mr Kleen

    The point of twitter is the give a bunch of self absorbed, egotistical doucebags a place to tell us all what they had for lunch and how great they think their every thought is. If you are that interesting, you have actually friend to tell these things to. If you dont, then your are probably a boring pratt – and no one cares anyway.

  5. Mike Power

    Silly question. To quote that great scientist Sir Ernest Rutherford, the father of nuclear physics, when a woman asked him “but what is the use of physics, Mr Rutherford? He replied: “Madam, what is the USE of a newborn baby?”

    And , Mr Kleen, we may be all the things you say on Twitter but at least we can spell and write coherent English. Remember, it’s like anal sex. If you don’t enjoy it, you don’t have to do it!

  6. RogerRat

    What is the point of Twitter? ‘aint it obvious? Wrap something up in “meaningful” language and tell people it’s all about keeping one step ahead. But is it not a business? Is it not about the people in the business making money from you? Why make your life even more complex than it already is? You don’t need it. It doesn’t need you. It’s just more technology….. always, always more….. I’m going to get myself a pencil, some paper, and write some poems sitting in the sun.

  7. Stevo from OZ

    Waste of time ol Twitter and mark my words or better still put a bet on it. This Twitter crap will die as fast as it was born, folk will tire of texting “im having a crap now” “oh I have run out of paper””guess what I’m on the bus”” Isnt that great””yawn”

  8. Steve

    90% of tweets are meaningless, a bit like people who have just met and can’t think what to say except “Lovely weather we’re having” or “Milk’s dear now, isn’t it?” Social networking is changing the way we communicate – it means we spend more time texting or sat at our computers rather than bungie jumping naked. It’s a sign of our generation – sterile, empty, hopelessly futile and without meaning….I mean, who really needs and digital stapler…bye for now, I’m just off to top myself (hope the Inglish is okay with you Mike)…

  9. Calli

    Don’t forget the search function!!

    I guess the replies above show how the folks ‘think’ Twitter is used. In actual fact like everything else you get out of it what you want.

    If you want to read great updates that inform, teach entertain then choose who you follow. You carve out your own filter for the inane updates and obviously un-follow non performers lol

  10. Joe

    Twitter is basically pointless if you dont have a mobile phone…thats why I dont use it. I dont have a cell phone, so yeah. Twitter sucks.

  11. garryartz

    I always have thought mobile phones are stupid things. Thank you Jesus for giving us a true insight into the uselessness and meaninglessness of twitter.

  12. Nik

    As far as I can see Twitter serves the following uses:

    1) Clogs up other fora and costs far too much data to be worth it on a mobile.
    2) Allows the masses a moment of glory as they “Follow” a Z-list wannabe.
    3) Ensures that I cease to view them as somebody I will converse with in any format other than voice or face to face.
    4) (My favourite) Gives hardline dictatorships ore ammunition and excuses for arresting and torturing their citizens (I’m looking at you Iran).
    5) Takes the worst aspects of Farcebook and removes any of the good points (assuming that there are any).
    6) Is a great tool for burglars / identity thieves and worse.
    7) Makes otherwise intelligent people into defensive drones.
    8) Causes severe damage to linguistic skills.

    And so forth.

  13. yuri

    Like Paul said “it’s a social networking tool to make contacts and carry on conversations”. I strongy agree, for example it is useful for students to knowing people in their own specialize and keep in touch.

  14. Matt

    I actually work with twitter (yes, I’m one of them), and people are always, always satying to me “what’s the point?” or “I don’t get it”. I always tell them that it’s basically a list of all the people and all the websites you find entertaining in the world, pointing out things that you might like as they happen.
    If you have a desk bound job and need a research service, follow leaders in your field and you’ll be first with all the news and developments all the time.
    If you have a Twitterstream full of people telling you what they had for lunch, you’re following the wrong people.

  15. Chris

    From what I have seen of tweets from friends (and enemies) tweeting is like the “wall” on Facebook; generally self absorbed and an absolute waste of time. want to “stay in contact with people” give them a telephone call or meet them for lunch!

  16. Suzumi

    After reading all prior posts (above). I am going to try it…FIRST, before I proclaim it as a useless thing. It is life’s great mystery which societal tools stick, and which ones don’t. The car? the computer? the atom bomb?… Gotta go, looking to see if the Dali Lama has any new tweets.

  17. Vero

    Twitter is cute…but it is not a social network site. It is a good way to read people’s interests and opinions. If you are willing to sift through a lot of noise, occasionally you will find some information that is interesting. Otherwise it is like walking into a crowded aviary where all the birds have megaphones and there is a lot of dried up poo.

    1. Paul Bradshaw

      I don’t agree with the ‘a lot of noise’ argument. After all, you choose who to follow, so if you follow one person that’s all you’ll hear – not a lot of noise. You choose to get as much noise as you’re happy with.

      To adopt your aviary example. When you sign up to Twitter it’s an empty aviary, and you fill it with the birds you most want to listen to. If the noise gets too great then you let some of the birds free (unfollow). If there’s too much dried up poo then you clean up.

  18. Tamar

    There’s probably some minimal value to the advice about following the leaders in your field, but now that there are networking groups like TED, which focus solely on new ideas from leaders in every field in every industry, there’s really no need for Twitter in that capacity. Also, if you want to do career-related networking, that’s what LinkedIn is for. If you want to be kept up-to-date on the latest news, go to the website of the newspaper of your choice or have breaking news delivered by SMS. 95% of Twitter is either morons retweeting other people’s opinions, would-be celebrities engaged in the business of self-promotion although they have no actual talent to promote, D-listers “feuding” with each other, and, as has already been pointed out, desperately self-absorbed people liveblogging their own lives (or posting tinyurl links to lolcat crap). Why won’t people just admit that Twitter is entertaining nonsense instead of trying to dress it up in all these fancy business-speak bullshit terms to make it sound as if it’s some crucial aspect of every industry and you will be missing out and behind the curve if you aren’t on it or following people? Maybe if you’re in the entertainment industry, and definitely if you’re in the gossip industry, but otherwise, no.

    1. Paul Bradshaw Post author

      You’re trolling aren’t you? SMS updates from a newspaper website as the best way of keeping up with breaking news?


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