Editor’s note: What follows is an account of why Twitter is useful interspersed every so often with tweets I received during the research and composition of this piece.
Yes, many users of Twitter are idiots. There, I said it. Lifestyles Editor Adrie Ashford will be thrilled. But don’t think that means I’m against Twitter.
Just because some of the people involved with it are idiots doesn’t mean that we should abandon Twitter all together.
If we all opted out of things because of a few idiots, nobody would participate in U.S. politics.
Whether you think it’s the greatest advancement in mass communication or the most heinous experiment in mass navel-gazing, Twitter is here to stay.
inaudiblyfree— I’m at Whole Foods Market Cedar Center (13998 Cedar Rd, at Warrensville Center Rd, Cleveland).
Disregard for a moment all the nobodies who tweet about going to the bathroom or which grocery store they’re at and consider Twitter as a medium for the free mass broadcast of news and events people actually want to know about.
And when it comes to things people want to know about, Twitter is serious business. On Aug. 29, Mike Wise, sports columnist for The Washington Post, tweeted that Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger would be suspended for five games.
According to the New York Times, Wise published the made-up tweet as a test of how fast a piece of misinformation could spread online. The story was picked up and run by several media outlets without any fact checking.
The Post promptly suspended Wise for one month.
amandapalmer— last minute extra tickets for #ARTcabaret TONIGHT in Cambridge, MA! call the box office/order at http://bit.ly/ARTcabaret QUICK
On the lighter, less job-threatening side of things, artists and musicians use Twitter to broadcast information about impromptu shows or extra tickets.
Like the tweet above from amandapalmer (musician Amanda Palmer), many artists have gotten far better responses to last-minute shows or extra tickets than mere word of mouth.
chadronstate— Chadron State rodeo is this weekend: It’s rodeo time. The annual Chadron State rodeo will be this weekend at the Dawes County Fairgrounds. http://tinyurl.com/24x33zg
Chadron State Information Services updates the chadronstate Twitter account with a short description and link to each news release posted on csc.edu. The CSC Twitter feed is a quick way to stay informed about upcoming campus events.
Twitter would also be a viable way to instantaneously send out an update about campus emergencies or closures. Its utility would depend on students activating the “Device updates” feature on an official CSC announcements feed.
The extra step would be worth it since getting a text that says “No classes today. Campus closed” is a lot easier than possibly missing an e-mail that says the same.
And while on the topic of Twitter’s “Device updates” feature, it should be well noted that, as with Twitter participation in the first place, receiving text message updates is completely optional. Although one might subscribe to the feeds of thirty different people, he might choose to only receive text updates about one or two.
Beanbroker— Lunch 09-06-2010 Sandwich: Egg Salad Sandwich on whole grain ciabatta with spinach and tomato. Soup: Potato or sweet pea. Salad: Mixed greens with grilled peppers croutons and honey lemon basil vinaigrette.
The Bean Broker Coffee House uses its Twitter feed to post its daily lunch menu. This is a great way Twitter can be used to disseminate information that people actually want. Rather than having to call or stop by the coffee shop, curious patrons can navigate to the feed on the Web, or receive the daily updates via text message. This is most appropriate for low frequency updates.
snopes— Does a Berlin restaurant plan to offer meals made from human body parts?
High frequency updates, like those from Snopes.com, the popular website that debunks urban legends, can be somewhat annoying. Snopes website is updated several times daily.
Even after 1 a.m. a subscriber might get five or six updates an hour, which definitely could inhibit easy sleeping. And who wants to be awakened at such an hour to wonder if a Berlin restaurant is planning to offer meals of human meat?
The fact is inescapable, Twitter is an opt-in community. If you don’t like it, don’t join up. After all, there’s always Facebook.
_kevbot— Just wrote an opinion piece on why Twitter isn’t idiotic. It may be self-defeating.