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How I Deal With Twitter

Created by dave. Last edited by dave, 10 years and 189 days ago. Viewed 8,308 times. #2
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Microblogging

The barrier to entry is very low. This means that lots of people use it as a microblog. You can bang off 140 characters really quickly, from your mobile phone via SMS or through your smart phone, or even (when it works) through IM.

The problem with this is that lots of people treat it as a microblog. So they bang in 140 characters on their thoughts of the day or the moment, and off it goes. So it becomes less of a source for timely information, and more of yet-another-place-to-check-to-follow-interesting-people.

The effect of this is that if you follow lots of people, your Twitter page gets noisy. And your IM client constantly interrupts you with someone's tweet. None of this is particularly conducive to keeping Twitter open all the time.

So for example, I like Wil Wheton. (Get past that for a moment. He's an interesting writer.) So I'd like to see what he writes on Twitter. I don't need to know moment-by-moment what's happening, though.

The other part of this problem is that since Twitter is a microblog, people are treating it as a microblog with an open API. This encourages application developers to experiment with new pieces of information that can be published via Twitter. Foe example, recently a couple of people who I follow went through phases of announcing every location they arrived at, or every track that went through their MP3 player. This is not information that needs to be sent to me in a timely manner (and in fact, I doubt I care at all what people listen to).

RSS is the answer

Fortunately, Twitter provides the answer to their own problem. Each twitter user's stream of tweets is available as an RSS feed.

If I load this RSS feed into Google Reader, I can read (and ignore) their stream of tweets at my leisure.

I also can do this without them knowing I am following them, which probably makes me more of a spooky internet stalker type person.

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This is a collection of techical information, much of it learned the hard way. Consider it a lab book or a /info directory. I doubt much of it will be of use to anyone else.

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