Thursday, June 09, 2011

"Twitter can do it all"

A conversation I've been having with increasing frequency lately goes like this (redacted for content essence):

Enthusiast: "Twitter can do it all. Links to scholarship, trends in the field--it's all there. You should try Twitter."

Me: "I'm on Twitter, and I follow a fair number of people. It has some useful resources."

Enthusiast: "You really should try Twitter. It's great for keeping up with scholarship."

Me, with a little more heat: "I'M ON TWITTER. It has some useful resources, but it doesn't have everything."

Enthusiast: "Twitter has everything. It's wonderful because people tweet great insights into literature. You really should try it."

Me, giving up: "Thank you for the tech tip on this marvelous resource. Gee, I had never heard of it before."

Enthusiast: "Twitter can do it all! You should try Twitter!"

I'll spare you the rest. Let's just say the communication loop is not reaching from my mouth to Enthusiast's ear. I've talked before about how annoying it is when people assume that because you have a nuanced view of what a particular technology can and can't do, you just don't get it, so let me stop there.

Here is what I've heard in these conversations and more formal settings. Twitter is the following:
  1. a great branding and self-promotion mechanism for scholars and grad students
  2. a means of keeping up with the scholarship so you don't have to read those pesky journal articles
  3. a source of great insights by great thinkers in the field before the insights are published
  4. a way to get the gist of various speeches and sessions at conferences
  5. a way to find links to resources that you'd otherwise never see.
I find #5 the most useful and sometimes #4, but "great insights"? My reaction to a lot of tweets is "well, sure," or "of course" or "that's interesting. I'll check out the link." Maybe I'm not following enough people, but I've never seen a tweet that made me feel as though Moses had come down from the mountain top with tiny, 144-character tablets.

Edited to add: in the comments, Dr. Koshary hilariously captured this "join my church" attitude:

"My Twitter is a mighty Twitter. Twitter is so great, you really should come to know Twitter. If loving Twitter is wrong, then I don't want to be right! Twitter can do anything, but Twitter lets us accidentally send sexually explicit messages meant for significant others to our parents because Twitter loves us enough to let us make our own mistakes."

9 comments:

Dr. Koshary said...

Was it intentional or coincidental that your transcription of the Twitter-head's talking points sounded like a missionary trying to wheedle you into hir church of choice?

Hmm, does word substitution clarify the matter?

"My Twitter is a mighty Twitter. Twitter is so great, you really should come to know Twitter. If loving Twitter is wrong, then I don't want to be right! Twitter can do anything, but Twitter lets us accidentally send sexually explicit messages meant for significant others to our parents because Twitter loves us enough to let us make our own mistakes."

Dunno. Maybe more research is needed.

undine said...

Dr. Koshary, that's hilarious! You don't need more research, though--so 2007. Just look on Twitter.

nicoleandmaggie said...

But you should really try twitter. I hear it has everything.

sophylou said...

Don't forget "All the kids today are using Twitter!" closely followed by "These days you've got to be where the kids are!"

Anthea said...

Hehe Dr Koshary, that's hilarious! You made me smile since I've just had to wade my way through tons of tech stuff for the last hour which was "sounding like a missionary" as you say. Thank you for making me laugh!

takingitoutside said...

Oh my. Substitute "Twitter" with various other technologies and I've had that same conversation with a friend ten or twenty times now. Somehow it never penetrates that the reason I didn't pick up X technology the first four times s/he said I should might be that I'm not going to. Ever.

undine said...

nicoleandmaggie--so I hear :).

Anthea--it made me laugh, too. I'm going to put it in the post, assuming Dr. Koshary doesn't mind.

sophylou--I forgot that one!

takingitoutside--I know what you mean.

Ink said...

I must be on the wrong Twitter.

Jonathan Jarrett said...

Don't forget "All the kids today are using Twitter!" closely followed by "These days you've got to be where the kids are!"

Because the kids and their music, er, social media are where it's at. (With apologies to Mr F. Zappa.)

Word verification is ceditio, which might well be the Latin for the act of giving in at the end of such a conversation as the one you stylise...