Twitter Is Where Conversations Go To Die

IMG_1970Back in 2003, Bill French coined the now rather popular quote “eMail is where knowledge goes to die” that’s been making the rounds all along and which over 4 years ago I decided to adopt myself (Or kindly steal, errr, I mean, reuse, if you would want to call it that way), as part of that new mantra of mine on Living “A World Without eMail“. Well, nearly 10 years later, and only 6 after its birth, I think I’m now ready to declare something that I never thought I would be claiming, at least, not this soon, but I am afraid we have reached that point: Twitter is where conversations go to die. Sadly. 

It took email over 30 odd years to reach that status where more and more people started to question its long-standing status quo within the corporate world and it looks like Twitter has accelerated that same perception to just a few years within the Social Web, without even entering the corporate world altogether!, but, based on what I have been seeing over the last few months I’m starting to think that we maybe well be a bit too late into the game and we may not be able to get back out it. Twitter has now become, once again, another messaging board system, like a good bunch of them out there of the once so-called social networking sites. Not anymore. And here is why… 

I have been using Twitter for over 5 years now (I think I can track it back to around March 2007 when I created my main Twitter ID @elsua) and all in all I have been having one of those rather heated love and hate relationships with it, with its ups and downs, with its wonderful experiences, but also with its rather painful ones, with moments of pure brilliance and genius, combined with others that I am afraid I just can’t explain myself. The thing is that, almost right from the beginning, I knew that if I wanted to make Twitter work its magic for me to even become part of My Big Three social networking tools I needed to focus rather heavily on the connections, the relationships, the knowledge sharing activities, the collaborative interactions, the innovative and creative side of those wonderful conversations, the immersive, constant and rampant learning experience one kept engaging with time and time again spending, after all, countless hours just to keep up. WOW, boy, did we have a good blast?!? For sure! And a real one!

I knew that I was not going to focus much on the social networking tool per se, more than anything else, because the experience, all along and throughout those 5 years, has been quite a horrifying one on its own, an appalling attempt to keep grabbing your attention, as if you didn’t have anything else to do!, with a rather poor performance, lacking scalability big time, with silly limitations with its API, capped, or better said, rather crippled searching capabilities, incredibly dull, boring and unappealing front end Web site, with huge amounts of spam making it rather difficult to even enjoy the tool any more and perhaps too many pretensions to try to reach a certain status that has never managed to achieve: indispensable. Gran Canaria - Playa Las Canteras - Las Palmas de Gran Canaria

And this is the time we are now, where the user experience of the Web site, along with both its desktop client TweetDeck, or its iOS client(s), are still horrendous, and rather depressing, but where it looks like Twitter, the beast, the Kraken, has finally awoken from that ideal world we all thought we were living in, that one of being so powerful enough to change the world any which way, that it has, finally,  decided to kill the very main reason as to why it’s reached the success it has at the moment and over the course of the years: its entire unique ecosystem of developers AND end-users as ONE entity. How about that?

I am sure by now you may have been reading the extensive amount of buzz that a recent announcement by Twitter itself has generated out there, on Twitterland, as well as blog posts, articles, news sites, etc. etc. Twitter has decided to start killing itself slowly, but steadily, by dictating a good number of rules of how that ecosystem should behave in order to make full good use of the capabilities available. And failure to do so would mean a cease and desist notice. Yes, it’s going to be a rather slow and painful death, because if there is a well known universal law out there in the Social Web is that if you would want to become a success in an already rather crowded Social Web space you need to count on that magic combo of both end-users AND developers, because if you don’t have such balance you are going to struggle and quite a bit. And Twitter is just about to experience that soon enough for us all to be reminded that social technologies are just that, tools, enablers, and that, as such, they come and go. Well, Twitter has just started its exit interview and it’s going to be rather nasty, as Martin Varsavsky brilliantly highlighted on this one single tweet a couple of days back: 


 

But, regardless of the implications of Twitter’s attempt to control its own environment and ecosystem, so that those who invested in it can be proved there is an opportunity to make big money by bastardising your core beliefs and founding principles, and become, all of a sudden, another publishing / media company on the Web, not even a social networking tool anymore!, there is something more worrying, extremely worrying, actually, that’s going to help accelerate its own demise and big time. And that’s us. Yes, only us. No-one else. We, the end-users, were the ones who made Twitter a smash hit back in the day and we are the ones who are going to help bury it and attend its funeral in very short time. 

When was the last time that you had a bl**dy good conversation in Twitter? I mean, a real one. Yes, you know, a conversation of more than, say, 3 to 5 tweets on a single thread with one or more participants? When was the last time you were trying to catch up on a conversation from those wonderful people you decided to start following, because you felt they would manage to rock your world, if you would give them a chance (And, yes!, back in the day they surely did!)? When was the last time you were blown away by a short exchange of exhilarating blurbs of less than 140 characters that left you wowing like you have never seen before? I bet that’s been a while, perhaps far too long ago…

Gran Canaria - Roque Nublo's Surroundings in the SpringThe thing is that Twitter was never designed to keep up with conversations, it was never envisioned as an open, public social networking dialogue between passionate advocates for whatever the topic with an inner urge difficult to surpass to connect, collaborate, share your knowledge across or innovate on some really cool initiatives. Yet, we, end-users, with the superb help and support from one of the richest ecosystems of amazingly talented developers managed to tweak Twitter, to hack it around in ways never imagined possible, and build brilliance out of it. Remember @s (Mentions) when they weren’t Mentions, but Replies? Remember hash tags? Remember any of the hundreds, if not thousands of Twitter related Apps that allowed us to tap into those conversations with prime examples like Janetter or Tweetbot as of late? Ahhh, those were the times, indeed! 

And I missed them, and big time! Because over the course of the last few months I have started to notice something that I never thought I would find possible, at least, not this soon. Nobody reads Twitter anymore. Better said, let me rephrase that in another way: nobody reads your tweets anymore! There used to be a time when we did though. When we took care of perhaps not reading the entire timeline to dig out all of those wonderful golden gems that made it totally worth it hanging out in Twitter, but a large chunk of them to make sense of what was happening around us. The good old Ambient Intimacy (coined by Leisa Reichelt, a.k.a. @leisa, back in the day) or Declarative Living (coined by James Governor, a.k.a. @monkchips). Fast forward to 2012 and we are just now far too busy with ourselves with our key, important messages, that we would want to blast out to our networks thinking we know better than them what they need, even if we haven’t asked them first about it!, because we all feel conversations are just that: sharing your messages never mind everyone else’s. Why bother, right? I mean, you don’t have time for that. You need to move on! You are just far too busy with things, right? See? This is what traditional marketing has been doing all along, i.e. finding new channels to keep doing the same good? old stuff without much care in between, and disappointingly enough traditional marketing is winning, because we are being used ourselves (by ourselves!) to behave in exactly the same way!

Twitter is where conversations go to die“. Gosh, it really hurts when I write that down. It hurts even more when I come to think about it, specially, how we are the very same ones misusing, and abusing, even, this unique and wonderful opportunity to reach a global sense of connectedness. Of co-ownership. Of co-shared responsibility for one another, to help each other, to connect, collaborate and innovate together. And, instead, we have just made the switch and started blasting out our messages thinking, and believing!, that Twitter is just another messaging board system where attention is no longer required, because conversations are no longer taking place, so why bother, if I have shared the blurbs I wanted to share and can now move into the next thing. Ever look again into Trending Topics? When was the last time that you didn’t find anything related to watching something on TV, or a movie, or a sports event or a celebrity passing away (According to Twitter, at least!) or, you name it. You do know what I am getting at. In a way, Twitter has gone mainstream, but of the worst kind. Twitter has become industrialised.

Once again, another social networking site biting the dust and become absorbed by that frenzy of becoming the new media. And annoyingly enough we seem to be pretty ok with it, because we are not doing much to revert it, in fact, we keep feeding the beast, and more and more by the day with all of those tweets we all know no-one reads anymore, but, you know, you have to be out there, because if you are not on Twitter you just don’t exist. People need to see you are actively engaging? with those 50 to 60 to 70, or more!, tweets shared across on a daily basis; you need to show people how your whole social networking strategy (Gosh, what a bunch of ugly words!) is based solely on Twitter, because that’s where everyone is, so you need to make the most out of it. Period. You still think it’s the platform that allows you to get the biggest gains with the lowest friction possible. I mean, everyone can tweet 140 characters or less, right? Gran Canaria - Playa Las Canteras - Las Palmas de Gran Canaria

Well, no! I refuse to make use of Twitter in that way! I want to fight back!! Please do allow me to fight it! I want the conversations back in Twitter. I miss them. And dearly! One of the reasons why over the course of the last 2 or 3 years I have performed monthly acts of Twitter hygiene by not following far too many folks, but enough to feel comfortable with, is because I read their tweets. Perhaps not 100% of them, depending on the day, and whether daily work, or business travelling, gets in the way, but I can certainly share with you all that I read the vast majority of them and every single chance I have to see the spark of a conversation I go for it! Why not? I want to bring back the user experience of what made Twitter a great social networking tool par to none. 

Yet, folks are just far too busy with their own broadcasting of short messages, their own messaging board system, confirming the conversation is now long dead. Twitter is the new e-Mail, apparently. We are now spending very little time on Twitter, just processing our to-dos, as fast as we can, so that we can then move on to the next thing, whatever that may well be. Well, no! While I can understand, and fully respect, how plenty of people would want to do that, let’s not forget that’s the same road that is going to take us where e-Mail is today. Twitter used to be fun. It used to be that really cool hangout place where we all tried to learn something new every day, where we tried to help each other become better at what we already do: plenty of pretty awesome and mind-blowings things!, where conversations sparked thanks to a golden nugget shared or a brilliant blog post or just something provocative enough to ensure a healthy reaction towards opening an interesting dialogue.

Never mind though how we have automated and industrialized our use of Twitter with silly famous quotes or funny tweets, smart phrases we just don’t know where they are coming from anymore, retweets from our followers telling us all how cool and how great and how knowledgeable we all are (I mean, remember? That’s why I am following you in the first place! No need for you to remind of that 3 to 5 times per day!), or how desperate we all keep begging and soliciting your friendly vote(s) for that upcoming panel for that über-cool conference event so you can hang out with the cool kids while you keep ignoring us after you made it.

Or perhaps how we are now scheduling our tweets in the future, just like we do with our emails and follow-ups, ensuring we are no longer there to respond back to a potential conversation in a timely manner. Or how you have also automated your blog posts and whatever other feeds into your Twitter stream so that folks would know where to head to read your writing of more than 140 characters. See? These are just some examples. Examples that, from my own experience, are killing the conversations in Twitter big time today, right now, right as we speak! I am sure there are plenty more out there and I would love to challenge you to share your favourite misuses of Twitter from your dear following networks in the comments, even just to see whether the conversations have died for you, too, or not… Perhaps I should put together another blog post including them all, along with a good number of other ones that I can think of at the moment by reading diving into my Twitter stream, once again.

Gran Canaria - MelonerasYes, I know that you may be thinking that there is an easy solution out there to fix this problem; i.e. unfollow everyone and start from scratch again. And perhaps that may well be the case, but I have been thinking about it for a while now and I don’t think it would solve the problem, because the people who I am really interested in following are not going to change their habits of how they use Twitter to kill the conversation, just because I have unfollowed them. They simply won’t know. I feel I need to find another way. Perhaps I may need some new friends, as a good friend of mine suggested after a rather interesting and fascinating conversation we had offline just recently on this very same topic, and maybe that’s the reason why I am loving Google Plus at the moment so much, mainly, because it’s providing me with an opportunity to remember, dearly, what Twitter used to be like not long: my favourite social networking tool, capable of allowing me to host some bl**dy good conversations on those topics I am truly passionate about, just like my network(s), without having to worry about that constant, and rampant self-promotion of one’s own marketing messages, so that your customers can keep coming back to buy your product: You!

But the other main reason why Google Plus has now moved into my Top #2 preferred social networking tool, at the moment, is because, apart from being able to enjoy the conversations again on topics that matter to us all on whatever the common interest (For instance, Social Business and the Social Enterprise, along with Knowledge Management, Online Communities, Learning and Collaboration, for yours truly) I get to experience special moments that surely remind you how mind-blowing, über-cool, inspirational, incredibly humbling, truthful and humane technology can be to make this a better world. Our shared, networked and interconnected world: 

 

When was the last time that Twitter made you feel exactly like you are feeling now, after having watched that short video clip with John Butterill? Just think of it, pause for a minute, when was it, exactly?  “Sharing a view… That’s a plus”.  Indeed, it surely is! But I miss Twitter. I miss the conversation. I miss you, my network(s). Here’s hoping you will stick around bringing it all back to what it used to be back in the good old days of what once made Twitter such a huge success: Us. The networks engaging with one another in more meaningful ways than whatever we thought we could, or would. Ever. 

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63 Comments »

  • de ce? says:

    retweets killed the conversation

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    • Luis Suarez says:

      Gosh! Never mind the shameless plugs asking for more and more RTs so that appalling measurers of influence like Klout, Kred, Peerindex and whatnot, can get their free juice to justify a business need that doesn’t even need to exist in the first place!

      RTs are the new “Reply to All”, apparently :-O

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  • Keith Brooks says:

    I see where you are coming from and where you are going, but I still do not agree that G+ is the future.
    In time it will all merge into one big glop of a stream that someone owns, be that IBM, Microsoft, Google, Apple or newstartupwithmoreideasthanmoney.
    But for now onversations still take place, one on one, in the way the other side prefers. Some like phone calls, other like emails, others Twitter and still others SMS.
    Flexibility is always preferred.

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    • Luis Suarez says:

      Hi Keith, thanks a lot for dropping by and for the feedback comments! Greatly appreciated! I am not saying that G+ is the future either, although, as I have blogged in the past, it’s the only *social networking site* that’s managed to combine both offline and online into a single unified experience and that’s much to the credit of trying to embed a unique experience where text, audio and video come together nicely! Most other SNS out there still haven’t caught up! And that’s just after one year in the making!

      I wouldn’t be so sure, but again this is not a blog post about whether Google Plus is better than Twitter or not. This is about relating how close today’s Plus experience is to what Twitter used to be a couple of years ago and how the latter has lost that conversational flavour altogether and not even sure it will recover it eventually.

      Flexibility is always preferred, indeed, but it’s interesting to see that what made Twitter a smashing hit back in the day, the conversations, is what’s very lacking at the moment in Twitter itself. Time to prepare to move elsewhere, if conversations is what you are looking for ;-))

      Thanks again for the feedback!

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      • Keith Brooks says:

        I agree you hit the parallel properly. As an aside, the power of persuasion is interesting.
        People ask others to RT because most people are sheep and will do what they are told.
        Last week we played with various socmed sites to game them and it is interesting how the people respond.
        I need to get out and speak at more events, then the conversations you imply will happen more than the ones we have with customers. Sad I know but I am trying to change that outlook.

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        • Luis Suarez says:

          Well, there we go with the biggest mistake *ever* on the Social Web out there that we may need to address and fix once and for all: to think that *all* folks are sheep and therefore assume they need to be treated as such. Wrong assumption, in my opinion.

          If you treat people like sheep they would behave like sheep, no doubt, if you treat them like hard working networked professionals they would behave accordingly. Guess we are just getting what we have been cultivating all along then. No, thanks! That’s why we need to keep up the fight! We probably just can’t afford to let the Social Web, and Twitter for that matter, fall back into that same flavour of interactions that made us all evolve into the Social Web in the first place. We should be moving forward, not backwards! :)

          Keep driving the change, Keith! Let’s do it!

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          • Keith Brooks says:

            I did say most, not all :-)
            I blame the so called social media experts for much of the waste on Twitter yet since I parse down what is important to me, I never feel inundated.

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  • Matt Brown says:

    Interesting post and thanks for your thoughts Luis. I am not sure that I am as heavily critical of Twitter in regards to the conversation demise. I do agree that Twitter has made things harder and somewhat frustrating but I feel that my engagement has been positive. I will admit that Twitter currently has become an IM tool more that a real conversation tool but and I seek to dial that back a bit and think a little more intelligently before a reply than just the standard “LOL” I do feel that Twitter more than any other Social Media tool has served me well to keep me informed and engaged in what is going on within the arenas of my passions and interests. My biggest frustration is with more followers comes the pressure of following more and diluting the quality and increasing the quantity.

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    • Luis Suarez says:

      Hi Matt! Excellent! Thanks much for dropping by and for sharing the experience of how you are benefiting from Twitter. It looks like you are on the right track! W00t! I think it’s rather interesting your point about judging, for yourself, the value you are getting out of it, and see how it would pave out eventually. In my case, and after those 5 years I referenced above. it’s lost part of the critical value it had in allowing connections AND conversations to flourish. Not because of the technology issues, which have been there all along, like you explained so accurately with the followers issue, but more how we have industrialised and automatised its use just to get our messages out there and then go away or go into the next task.

      Conversations are not tasks. They are dialogue, interactions, learning, sharing knowledge, etc. And it’s probably something we would need, or want to bring back, because, otherwise, Twitter will become just another news media site, if it isn’t already one …

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      • Matt Brown says:

        I absolutely agree with the industrialized issue. Companies need to pay more attention to the conversation and less on the need to market their wares via self-proclamation and advertisement. As a brand loyalist/advocate and firm believer in the transparency that Twitter has engendered between company and consumer I don’t want the companies presence to die. Respectable companies do more listening and responding and less marketing.

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        • Luis Suarez says:

          Exactly! And since companies are definitely made of people, at least, last time I checked! ;-)) I would be expecting that those very same people would be paying more attention to the conversation, rather than throwing out their messages out there without even thinking of the possibility of hosting such dialogue. It requires a different mindset from us all. A change of habits. We all know that old habits die hard, but if we would want *change* to eventually succeed we need to start somewhere. I decided my tipping point was to provoke this dialogue, to *wake up* people, and therefore those companies ;-))

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  • Trisha Liu says:

    Twitter is still a fun, cool, learning, inspirational place for me. But maybe that is because I only follow 121 people? :)

    That being said, I do think Google+ is better suited for conversations. I mostly like the threading and you don’t have the character limit.

    Also, I understand this post isn’t about which tool/platform is better. I think it comes down to personal choices on how we spend our time, with whom, seeking out real relationships, and showing up ourselves. I simply don’t follow people that I deem ‘too noisy’, even if much of their content is great. I actually rely on other folks I follow to curate (RT/Share) the noisy person’s great stuff!

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    • Luis Suarez says:

      Hiya, Trisha! What an interesting and fascinating insight! Yes, I know that Twitter can be all of that and plenty more! I actually think you bring up a very very good point! And it is that one of the folks you follow vs. your followers. I, too, have noticed how by following less folks I actually get to enjoy Twitter much more, more than anything else, because it opens up the door to pause and reflect. To converse with those folks, although smaller numbers, but equally engaging altogether, where when following large numbers the interact just doesn’t happen. That’s when we seem to enter the Messaging Board System mentality. Wonder whether one of the keys is, after all, on the number of “relationships” we can keep up to engage in meaningful dialogue :)

      Cool stuff! Thanks much for dropping by and for sharing that insight! Loved it! And good tip on keeping the number of following lower to make it much more manageable :) hehe

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    • John Woodworth says:

      I also chose to follow just a handful of people, less than 100 for me. Otherwise, it’s crazy. Using Tweetdeck to manage stacks of thousands is beyond my abilities.

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      • Luis Suarez says:

        Hi John! Great idea! Along the lines of what I have been doing myself as well for a little while now. instead of following thousands I have decided to finally stick around with a number that I would feel comfortable with and that would be manageable and when looking for specific topics that’s when I would rely on hashtags and search engines, although I wish Twitter Search would be much more effective than what it is, sadly. hehe

        That’s why every month I do go through that Twitter Hygiene cleaning things up and everything, otherwise I, too, would go crazy! Glad I am not the only one thinking along the same way…

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  • Chris Thompson says:

    I came late to Twitter – about 2 years ago. So I developed it as a broadcast tool, more than a conversation tool. I’ve had a few 2 tweet back-and-forths, but nothing you’d call a conversation. I like Twitter for getting headlines/info – with links to deeper details.
    Perhaps that is how most late-comers view it and is what made it uber-popular. I understand the interesting conversation tool that you lost from the origins of Twitter (I follow friends who obviously knew Conversational Twitter) but I doubt you can bring it back. Pandora’s Twitter account is opened…

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    • Luis Suarez says:

      Hi Chris! Thanks much for sharing that feedback as well! Great points as well! Don’t take me wrong. I, too, agree that Twitter is superb to identify golden nuggets, signals in between all of that noise and everything as a broadcasting tool. I am happy with that. That’s one of the use cases I have been employing myself as well. What I am finding lacking is how that conversation has moved away, or disappeared altogether. And why I miss those days, because those very same folks who are using it as a broadcasting tool were the same ones that used it as a conversation tool back in the day and somehow they have rather given up or hide away regardless. Yet, they keep claiming that Twitter is all about the conversation.

      No, it is not. Act accordingly, please. It’s all I’m saying. Pandora’s Twitter account is just fine, as long as it comes out with that lovely exercise of openness and transparency that’s very much needed at the moment. Exactly like you have described it, which is just terrific!

      Thanks for pointing it out and for dropping by! Excellent stuff!

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  • I’ve found Twitter fairly frustrating from the start and not an effective tool for meaningful dialog. I don’t think you can have a meaningful conversation in 140 characters, and it’s not just 140 characters, for many people it’s 140 minus whatever room you’ve left so that it can be retweeted, and minus whatever link you’ve added. Let’s say I send a tweet with a recent landscape photo I’ve taken. Someone might be inclined to send back a tweet with a comment. Now if I want to reply again and respond to the comment, plus continue the dialog with a question of my own, I simply run out of space. I can break it up into multiple tweets, but that also interferes with the flow. As a tool for broadcasting info, Twitter is fine, but I’ve never found it to be a great tool for conversations.

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    • Luis Suarez says:

      Hi Nathan! Another excellent point, indeed! And perhaps very descriptive of that well known tweet we are all gone too used to over time: “Arrrggghhh can’t follow the conversation anymore in Twitter! Hulp!”. I agree, 140 characters, or less, is rather tough to drive a conversation through, but it could surely help as a pointer to develop some additional ideas, thoughts and from there onwards, and if needed, develop a technique to move the conversation elsewhere. It’s happened with me quite a few times and how I have moved it to G+, that, as Trisha mentions above, is way way better to host such dialogue :)

      The thing is that I am missing those entry points at the moment to start those conversations. And things weren’t like that, say, 2 or 3 years ago. Yes, I can see how Twitter is evolving and everything, but it’s evolving into become another messaging board system, and as such, it’s no longer a social networking tool per se. Perhaps it never was, and we are just coming to terms with it nowadays ;)

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  • Perhaps Twitter is having its Detroit moment.

    As other SM entities become more conversational Twitter is having to rethink their Model T only in black business model. It may have worked for the first little while, but user expectations changed before they could adjust accordingly. See recent decades with the influx of Japanese cars in North America supplanting Detroit as the car of choice.

    Was Twitter designed for conversations?

    I don’t think so.

    It was and still is an open SMS.

    We the people turned it into a conversation platform. We redefined its intent; the Model T actually became available in another colour unbeknownst to its original manufacturer, in this case, Twitter.

    We created the conversations.

    Now, as user adoption skyrockets, we the early adopters question its mainstream effectiveness. We crossed the chasm long ago but 80% of its current users didn’t.

    To them, perhaps, Twitter *is* a conversation. But it is Twitter (the company) that must now pivot such that it doesn’t further alienate its strongest ambassadors. It must seek out a way to recalibrate its core purpose; connecting people to people, thoughts to ideas and knowledge into learning through the true erection of an enhanced conversation mechanism.

    I too have watched with recent amusemetnt the irony that is now Twitter.

    My hope ergo is two-fold: Twitter sorts out how to truly become a conversation platform and not an open messaging system … and … users utilize the new conversation platform in its new and intended manner.

    I’m sticking around. We’re not even at the end of the beginning yet.

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    • Luis Suarez says:

      Hi Dan! Brilliant insights, as usuals, with lots of additional thoughts coming out from my spinning head as I kept reading through it. I love your mention of the Early Adopters as perhaps that’s what my main observation has been, how those early adopters have *stopped* and rather abruptly hosting and holding conversations and instead have deviated into using Twitter as a messaging board system with its advantages, but also its many disadvantages. Perhaps it’s my inner nature of a bleeding edge early adopter that’s rebelling to seeing and witnessing how Twitter has become industrialised even by those very same folks who brought it into life back in the day. Perhaps it’s just me sensing I don’t want to abandon the boat, wanting to stick around, not because of the tool itself, but because of the wonderful people making use of it, hoping they will wake up again, soon enough, to rebel against that industrialisation that they themselves have provoked become a successful strategy for Twitter to cling on as that new business model pretending to become that next big media resource. Trending Topics would confirm such strategy soon enough…

      I read the other day an article that was saying how Twitter’s active community, mainly those early adopters, I can imagine, was down to 27% of active participation and one cannot wonder but think what Twitter will be doing with those early adopters to re-engage them back, because failure to do so will just help accelerate Twitter’s demise into oblivion, just like another other media site …

      Tough and rather interesting and exciting times for Twitter, and for us Early Adopters on coming to terms with what we would want to get out of it at the end of the end. I, for one, miss the conversations. I, for one, would want them to come back. Otherwise, it’ll be time for me to move on and find a new place to participate in those conversations … Clock it ticking …

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  • Luis Suarez says:

    @Keith, catching up on your last response and couldn’t help get a giggle or two of how those social media experts have transformed themselves from good old vendors and consultants, back in the day, when Knowledge Management was the rage and look at the havoc that was created! Are we repeating the very same mistakes we made 10, 15, 18+ years ago?!?! Please, do tell me, we are not. Please. Thought we all knew better and have learned from our past mistakes :) Or have we?

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  • Ralph says:

    Interesting  post Luis- 
    I agree that twitter does not really generate conversations all the time… If I get  ( 3 or 4 replies to a tweet ) it gives the confirmation that the tweet interesting and relevant, and because of that, connections are made and knowledge is flowing even on 140 characters alley :)  – but as limited as we we are on twitter, I feel that it forces me to alter my communication approach.  After reading a shared blog post or a tweet for example, and I find them engaging,  I wish to add my 2 cents,  I’ll find myself  “versing” or, in other words,  shrinking my entire idea or message into one “saying” or a short sentence… In twitter terms, that’s how one can be describing a point of view without having to have to expand a lot.   That’s what twitter represents to me personally. It’s not a bad thing per se, but having the ability to expand on a topic (commenting on a blog or google +) where details, experiences and insights are shared is far more rewarding I find.  

    When having conversations (by commenting) Stronger connections are made and more “refined social learning” takes place given folks can have their initially shared points of view alter, change, or see their ideas evolved… Why? because of others reactions and responses ( their side of the conversation ). 

    In the end, professionally speaking and if they’re part of the culture, (approach to work) Conversations help redefine work, and set the blueprint for Communities. 

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    • Luis Suarez says:

      Hi Ralph! Excellent comments as well and much appreciated the feedback! Thanks!! One of the reasons why I enjoy your tweeting is exactly that, because instead of just blasting out a message out there on an interesting link you keep adding your ¢2 on what you thought was worth while sharing allowing us all to tap into your head and learn a little more about you, your interests, ideas, thoughts, experiences, etc. etc. so that over time building an online persona of yourself becomes much more accurate, therefore generating much more trust in the interaction. Wish other folks would do the same. If they would, perhaps I wouldn’t have posted this entry in the first place, since the dialogue would flourish on its own :)

      Loving the connection you have made as well between conversations being the blueprint of communities, which is a point that most folks keep missing out on when thinking how different interacting in communities is versus teams, orgs. and whatever other groupings. Spot on! Thanks for that, too!

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  • Suzanne says:

    I wouldn’t call the small amount of exchanges I do on Twitter conversations. By exchanges I mean saying something directly to someone/s, and them to me in return.

    I’m not much of a small-talker. Maybe that’s why.

    Twitter is one of my knowledge touch points. It connects me to conversations. Like this one. It’s the drive-thru to my Google Reader feeds. (I wonder why RSS readers just never took off. Too much reading maybe.)

    I notice at least 2 “generations” of early adopters on the scene. There are the people who’ve done The WELL, and the people who’ve done early Twitter, FB, Second Life etc.

    I’m of the 2nd gen. I’ve participated in various online spaces and in reflecting my inclinations and habits, I notice that conversing online, textually, is somehow unsatisfying, for one because it’s very time consuming. And I consider myself a writing type of person.

    TheWELLian geners seem to be utterly engaged. A cultural thing perhaps having “grown up” with texts-on-a-screen.

    I recently began keeping a journal again, this time with OMMWriter. I often just want to think aloud, not converse.

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    • Luis Suarez says:

      Hi Suzanne, interesting feedback comments, too! Highlighting, perhaps, one of the biggest use cases for Twitter at the moment, beyond broadcasting: content / feed aggregator. RSS per se have taken off and big time, it’s just that most of the time we may not identify them as such, but when I mention things like Google Reader, Yahoo Pipes, Pulse, Flipboard, Zite, etc. etc. all are services driven by RSS and, as such, people love them to bits without even thinking they are RSS feeds. Twitter plays a similar role altogether, along these very same lines.

      I think I’m on the 2nd group as well, although I was interacting through social networks behind the firewall way way before those you mentioned above came on board (circa 2001). Perhaps I’m sitting somewhere in between those two worlds :)

      RE: journal, yes!! This is what this blog is all about, thinking aloud, but in most cases it turns out into conversing, too, which is just fine me. That’s what blogging has been all along over the last 18 years and counting … hehe

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  • Anne Marie says:

    Hi Luis. Your blog post got me thinking. I have never experienced Twitter for real conversation – banter yes. For me, it is about connection: connecting to people for fun, camaraderie and information.

    I must admit that I too was becoming disillusioned with the volume of Twitter noise, and I may even have added to it without meaning to.

    The magic was restored after watching the Olympics opening ceremony at the same time as Twitter, which was really entertaining. But it was seeing Sir Tim Berners-Lee type his This Is For Everyone tweet and then see it in my stream – well that was astonishing. I can still remember that feeling of realisation that I was connected to many, many others reading that tweet at the same time. Goose pimples.

    So I am re-appreciating the connecting value of Twitter. As I was thinking about this response, this old song popped into my mind and I will now think of it as my Twitter Song:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GaDHXsjSJWg

    :-))

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    • Trisha Liu says:

      Wonderful comments Anne Marie. Connection is the key piece for me too. And your Twitter song made me laugh – thank you for that! :D

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    • Luis Suarez says:

      Hiya, Anne-Marie! Goodness! Talking about one of those ah-ha! Twitter moments! And nothing more ironic than having it come through a blog post and some excellent commentary coming along! Yes, Yes, Yes!! Indeed, Twitter is all about connections and making connections, not necessarily holding conversations. It’s just too funny I realised about it now when my business card for the last 5 years has been “@elsua on Twitter. Let’s connect”. Perhaps I was asking for just far too much and should treat it as that favourite song of yours for it you shared above and then focus the conversation elsewhere once the connection has been made! :)

      Brilliant stuff, Anne-Marie! I, too, got shivers through my spine while watching the ceremony realising how as good as we, human beings, are as incredible negatives, we are also more than capable for amazing incredible positives! That was one of many, many more to come!

      Thanks again for that inspiration! Hope to see you soon again!

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  • [...] up on a challenging post by Luis Suarez, let me jot down my thoughts on what Twitter is, has become, and will be. The word [...]

  • Jay Cross says:

    Luis, part of what’s going on is the old technology adoption curve. We enthusiasts love to experiment at the edge. We like to hack. We’ll try to converse with a limited platform like Twitter just to see if we can do it. Once a tech goes mainstream, however, we get bored. We go off in search of the new edge. Google+ is new; I wonder if I could make a movie with it. Maybe use Pinterest as a corporate KM tool. Heh, what could we do with something as mainstream as email? I know: be among the first to refuse to use it; that’d edgy. Frankly, conversing in your comment stream is fun. Perhaps the future will be federation that enables us to converse where and whenever we feel like it.

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    • Luis Suarez says:

      Hi Jay! Thanks for dropping by and for noticing the conversation :) hehe I don’t think that it’s a matter of early adopters getting bored. I think it’s pretty much the opposite. It’s more down to them being absorbed by the mainstream and having a tough time with that absorption process, because that’s when they would start spreading far too thin. Perhaps it’s part of the problem I have been seeing myself as I keep interacting with folks. Like I said, I don’t think it’s boredom, but more how tough it cam become to readjust into a completely different game: going mainstream.

      The interesting thing I have learned from this blog post and the commentary and further reactions is that everyone thinks I’ve killed my Twitter use, like I’ll be moving away from it and everything. Ha! Don’t think it’s going to happen any time soon. Have invested far too much time, energy and effort in it to just walk away. It’s just a matter for me to re-define my use of it, and certainly this excellent conversation with all of you on this blog post has helped tremendously!! Thanks for that!

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  • Luis,
    I agree on a lot of your observations around Twitter. And changing the API to keep 3rd party vendors our reminds me on other similar things happening with other ecosystems in the past. Vendors try to want to lock you in your eco-system.
    And I feel ashamed and guilty. As a marketer I am scheduling posts. At least I try only to spread valuable content and not only Marketing blabla …
    Conversations? Valuable dialogue? Yes, agreed. We should go for that, because this is the DNA of Social Business, but in my opinion it is not a tool question.
    Nevertheless I am not on favor of Google Plus as you are. When we talk about an open API, I see similar or worse behaviour with the power of Google and its influence in web living from advertising. Don’t they want to lock us down in their ecosystem, too? Don’t they play games with search ranking etc.?

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    • Luis Suarez says:

      Hi Stefan! Thanks much for the heads up and for the great feedback comments! Interestingly enough, I have bumped into a couple of articles from 2009!! that already clearly hinted a little bit where Twitter was heading and I guess I have just got it confirmed for myself. At least that’s the impression I have after having read this article from Brian Solis and this other one from Greg Lloyd. I think at the end of the day it’s about how we get to redefine the good use of the tools to achieve a certain task and perhaps a good lesson learned for me on maybe expecting far too much from a single basket of eggs when I should be having a couple of them hehe

      RE: Google Plus. initially, it may sound like it, but I think it’s a bit too early in the game to confirm whether that’s the strategy or not. It took Plus over a year to come up with an iPad App and now that’s there, the UX is just phenomenal! I feel Plus, on the whole, is going to follow a similar path: grow small, build from there, learn from the experience, adapt and improve over time. I guess that in most cases we may have run out of patience to see how it would develop things further, but I am patient enough to wait and see how it would move along. Somehow I feel it’s going to be a different game altogether from what I have been seeing and experiencing myself so far …

      We shall see … Time will tell …

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  • John Woodworth says:

    I never thought of Twitter as conversational in the four years I have been using it. It’s a good human-enhanced attention service…

    Never for conversations. I hope G+ is successful. Let’s see.

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    • Luis Suarez says:

      Hi John! Thanks a lot for dropping by as well! Fantastic! I think your definition of how you use it pretty much nails it for me, too! “A good human-enhanced attention service”. Perhaps that’s how I need to treat it and learn to start treating it that way. Feel I would be much better off altogether! :-)) hehe

      RE: Google Plus, I think it will, perhaps not at the extent of FB or others, but certainly on its own way it already is seeing some of the amazing stuff you can do with its wide range of use cases and interactions merging both the offline / text world with the online, real-time one of IM and video with Hangouts. We shall see, I guess, but I think it’s on the right track already :)

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      • John Woodworth says:

        And how did I find my way to your blog post, hmmm?

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        • Luis Suarez says:

          ROFL!! Errr, ejem, I bet it was down to someone out there who blasted it out on Twitter to make fun of the irony of the topic discussed and being shared across on Twitter! :-P

          Typical! Grrrr, these social media gurus! ;-))

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  • Luis, another extremely passionate and insightful post. As compared to you, I am a relative newcomer to Twitter, however since the early days of signing on I have felt this same way and overwhelmed by the amount of information coming at me with little to no engagement. Perhaps the majority who now use it don’t understand how to engage with their network and never joined for that purpose to begin with like you and I did. They just thought of it as another channel to promote and push their messaging. I have been cautious about who I follow and have found some that I do indeed find value from, so all is not lost. Cool video clip with John Butterill, amazing example of bringing people together who are truly engaged in the walk together! Thanks for sharing and allowing me to experience this special moment too!

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    • Luis Suarez says:

      Hiya, Susan! WOW! Many many thanks for those wonderful comments and for noticing the blog post! Much appreciated! I truly loved your quote: “They just thought of it as another channel to promote and push their messaging”, because I think you are just hitting the nail on the head! I am starting to think that the vast majority of folks who are now using social networking sites are missing some of the basics that those of us who started a bit earlier than SNS came about have enjoyed ever since: blogging!

      Indeed, I suspect that those of us who were engaged in conversations through blogging for a good while were capable of making that switch into these SNS with no problem and make use of them as conversation driven tools. However, those folks who may have skipped blogging altogether may be missing such interactions and therefore think, and feel, that Twitter is just another broadcasting platform, or messaging board system, like I mentioned above.

      I am starting to question whether on the enablement and education most businesses out there keep engaging and executing along whether modules on blogging should be made available to practitioners just to get them to practice having AND hosting conversations. Somehow, I suspect it would help tame everyone’s expectations better.

      Glad you enjoy the video clip from John. It’s one of my favourite ones for this year. The moment with the elephants coming along to the Hangout and everyone wowing is something that still gives me shivers when I watch it. Again and again! Just brilliant! Another incredibly positive!

      Thanks again for the feedback, Susan! Much appreciated.

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  • Atul says:

    Nice one, Luis. Some things i have seen over last few months …

    1. Twitter is becoming more and more a way for sharing url’s, sort of a social networking meets social bookmarking, if we are still using the term, i.e.

    2. The number of tweets seems to be reducing quite a bit.

    Apart from these, i feel twitter also doesnt preserve context. Say, you have posted 5 tweets in the last hour. When someone replies to a tweet, not quite easy to preserve the context of which tweet the reply is to in 140 chars.

    You said it, though, with reply-all.

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    • Luis Suarez says:

      Hi Atul! Thanks a lot for dropping by and for the feedback comments! Appreciate the additions!

      On 1. Absolutely! In fact, I keep claiming that Twitter is the new RSS feed reader, but without us realising much! Think of the amount of times that people keep sharing links from all over the place. They themselves have become an RSS feed aggregator without knowing! And then they keep saying that RSS is dead! Ha! No kidding, it’s more alive and kicking than ever! Through us sharing all of those links!!

      On 2. That’s very true, although there are Twitter clients out there that allow you to keep up with the conversations beautifully and in a breeze. Like both Janetter on Mac / Windows and Tweetbot on iOS. That’s why I use them on a regular basis to help me make sense of it all. Without them, see the references about on the upcoming API changes things are going to become tougher and perhaps kill the conversation altogether! Grrr

      We will have to wait and see how things would develop further … Thanks again for the feedback!

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  • Marie-Louise Collard says:

    Great post Luis and great discussion with so many valid points that I would agree with from various contributors to the discussion.
    Twitter is of course “what you make it” – isn’t that why so many people use it for all the different reasons people have cited? I certainly never engaged for the sake of a conversation – much more the paths it led me down, the information it provided, the links to valuable contacts, blogs, articles – “people” – and conversations like this!. I actually follow very few people but what I get back far exceeds the number I follow because it is selective in what I want out of it. I don’t randomely follow everyone who follows me and no doubt they duly unfollow me as a result. But I’m not in it for numbers – I’m in it for what I want to get out of it – and conversations weren’t in the mix – there’s not enough characters available! Isn’t that why they die there? Thanks

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    • Luis Suarez says:

      Hi Marie-Louise, thanks much for noticing the blog post and for sharing your wonderful feedback! Much appreciated! I’m really glad that I had a chance to revisit both the article, as well as the commentary, because when going through your response I just couldn’t help thinking how very accurate everyone’s response has been on “Twitter is what you make of it”. And I guess over the last few months I wasn’t getting anymore what I wanted, i.e. those conversations. So after I put together this blog post I did a lot of introspection of how I used the tool and after going through a massive Twitter Hygiene exercise where I know a few folks would not be very pleased with, I’m now back on track!

      I was missing exactly what you mentioned above, Marie-Louise, what is it that I would want to get out of it. Instead of trying to please everyone with that focus on the numbers, better be focusing on the quality of what you would want to get out, which is certainly what I’m focusing on at the moment and why I’m back on track again. So this article and the conversations that came afterwards have resulted in some sort of much needed catharsis that perhaps every now and then everyone should go through … :-D

      I surely enjoyed mine! And back on track!

      Thanks again for the inspiring commentary everyone!

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      • Anton Maslov says:

        Your thoughts got me thinking seriously))
        On the one hand, there are a lot of “conversations” with dozens, hundreds or even thousands of comments http://bit.ly/P9OxrS.

        On the other hand , they can hardly be called a ” true conversations”. There are almost no comments on comments. http://bit.ly/PKfSmi (to expand the conversation just click on the tweet) The responses are intimate, as if the commentator is sure that his comments were addressed personally to the author (and it is rightly so), and can be read by author only (which is not the case).

        Twitter ruthlessly cut conversations. The actual size of the discussions could be hundreds or even thousands of comments, but you will see no more than 15. Enough to compare two references
        https://twitter.com/PerezHilton/status/238043898348453888 and http://j.mp/QTe2er .
        It is like trying to read a book through a pinhole. Is it possible to discuss anything together, without seeing each other’s comments?

        Of course, the author is unlikely to be able to answer or even read all the comments. But does it mean that this kind of communication is not valuable?
        Not at all. The audience can entertain itself if we give people the opportunity to interact with each other, share opinions and facts. Is not that the meaning of community: involving people into interaction with the brand through the interaction with each other. According to http://econsultancy.com/uk/blog/3521-how-amazon-made-2-7bn-with-one-small-tweak User reviews have proven to be an effective sales driver,.. displaying the most helpful reviews has increased sales in the media products category by 20%, overall this feature was worth $2.7bn to Amazon.

        Paradox, Twitter is open multi-user environment, but the facilities of communication are very intimate, taken from traditional IM, allowing to fully communicate only a limited number of people at once.
        Twitter gives everyone the awesome opportunity to become a mass media ….and to inherit their old problems: one-way communication with audience. Twitter provides an opportunity to build a huge audience, and misses the opportunity to turn it into a community.

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        • Luis Suarez says:

          Hi Anton, I guess it’s always better to catch up with conversations later than never, right? Apologies for the long delay on the response, but let me take this opportunity to thank you for the wonderful feedback comments and for taking the time to add further up into the conversations. It’s greatly appreciated! :)

          Your last paragraph surely is the killer and the one that clearly describes, and rather nicely, the main issues that, months later, I still see with Twitter itself. To quote:

          “Twitter gives everyone the awesome opportunity to become a mass media ….and to inherit their old problems: one-way communication with audience. Twitter provides an opportunity to build a huge audience, and misses the opportunity to turn it into a community.”

          That’s just so spot on! And it’s even more ironic when you look into the direction that Twitter has been moving into lately where it’s forgotten about the conversation and that sense of community and instead it’s converting itself into a publishing, media company, if not already, along the lines of walking hand in hand with TV, Radio, newspapers, etc. etc. stopping at wanting to evolve into a community, network driven tool and even worse when we, its end-users, are the ones who are helping make that transition much easier by behaving pretty much the same way!

          Guess we will need to smarten up a bit more if we would want to incorporate Twitter back into our conversations, because, so far, a few months later after I shared the original post, I still feel pretty much the same way about Twitter and how cumbersome it is to have a good, decent conversation in it… The key question to ask, I guess, would be whether we, ourselves, would be willing to change our behaviours and bad habits when using Twitter and make a better sense out of it altogether! :)

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  • [...] Suarez has also seen changes in Twitter and got riled up enough to write, Twitter is Where Conversations Go to Die. My tweet and Laura Talley’s retweet of his post inspired the Twitter conversation we had [...]

  • [...] I discovered a great blog post on Twitter from Luis Suarez titled “Twitter is Where Conversations go to Die” which echoes a lot my frustrations with social media. In his post, he touches on a number of [...]

  • [...] up on a challenging post by Luis Suarez, let me jot down my thoughts on what Twitter is, has become, and will be. The word [...]

  • [...] I also hate that Twitter has become so big now, and has turned into much more of a broadcast network than somewhere you can really talk to people (I think this is part of the appeal of new networks like Google+ and App.net). Most people never post anything to the network, they just follow celebrities or sports teams, and those kinds of accounts rarely interact with “normal” people. The idea of Twitter as a conversational tool seems to be dying. [...]

  • [...] I also hate that Twitter has become so big now, and has turned into much more of a broadcast network than somewhere you can really talk to people (I think this is part of the appeal of new networks like Google+ and App.net). Most people never post anything to the network, they just follow celebrities or sports teams, and those kinds of accounts rarely interact with “normal” people. The idea of Twitter as a conversational tool seems to be dying. [...]

  • [...] I also hate that Twitter has become so big now, and has turned into much more of a broadcast network than somewhere you can really talk to people (I think this is part of the appeal of new networks like Google+ and App.net). Most people never post anything to the network, they just follow celebrities or sports teams, and those kinds of accounts rarely interact with “normal” people. The idea of Twitter as a conversational tool seems to be dying. [...]

  • [...] I also hate that Twitter has become so big now, and has turned into much more of a broadcast network than somewhere you can really talk to people (I think this is part of the appeal of new networks like Google+ and App.net). Most people never post anything to the network, they just follow celebrities or sports teams, and those kinds of accounts rarely interact with “normal” people. The idea of Twitter as a conversational tool seems to be dying. [...]

  • [...] teams, and those kinds of accounts rarely interact with ’normal’ people. The idea of Twitter as a conversational tool seems to be dying,” Ingram said. __reach_config = { pid: '4f03595ba782f36fb8000003', title: 'Recession-Proof [...]

  • [...] teams, and those kinds of accounts rarely interact with ’normal’ people. The idea of Twitter as a conversational tool seems to be dying,” Ingram [...]

  • [...] or sports teams, and those kinds of accounts rarely interact with “normal” people. The idea of Twitter as a conversational tool seems to be dying. (Mathew worries more about this than I do. I had some good conversations just yesterday. I kind of [...]

  • Matt Simpson says:

    Hi Luis,
    If I post something in Twitter, it dies… No feedback… Nothing. And that’s not because no one replies.

    It’s because I can’t find the discussion thread. And no, I don’t want to hack up a dozen tools to make Twitter what I want to make of it.

    It should just work.

    If I want a social connection, I use Facebook.

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    • Luis Suarez says:

      Hiya, Matt! Goodness! Let’s see if this one works, then! If you have subscribed to the comments, you may be able to re-find this thread again! I couldn’t have agreed more with you on your commentary about how hard it is to re-find content in Twitter without using third party tools, or desktop / mobile clients. It almost looks like Twitter itself doesn’t want people to recover and retrieve conversations, but send them into oblivion!

      I was going to say that if I would want social connection I wouldn’t go to Facebook, but Google Plus, but that would be another discussion for another day, don’t you think? ;-)

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  • Lisa Price says:

    I am in Politics, my colleges tweet constantly.
    For them it seems to make sense.

    To me it seems to have no real impact on their popularity , politics or “followship”.

    They have 4 to 8 thousand followers, type constantly but sell nothing. I believe on twitter you cannot find people to build a castle, because the only thing they build is made of 140 virtual building blogs. It seems to me like a game, like tetris, and when you are done you get back to the real world.

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    • Luis Suarez says:

      Hi Lisa, thanks for dropping by and for your feedback comments, adding further up into the conversation. Greatly appreciated your time and attention to the article and the conversation. Very descriptive your thoughts about how vast amounts of people keep using Twitter. More than a conversation driven tool it’s more down to how fast and to how many you can broadcast your messages without asking anything in return just to enjoy that rush of popularity and sudden “fame”. It’s a pity, because when Twitter first got started things weren’t like that. In fact, it was all about the conversation, about a pure act of learning, getting exposed to serendipitous knowledge discoveries that lead to wonderful conversations, but it looks like once the masses have come on board on to Twitter the conversation got de-virtualised to the point where it’s just another broadcasting mechanism of people’s own agenda forgetting about adding value, engage in conversations or build a stronger sense of community. Sad.

      But, like I said, I don’t necessarily blame Twitter for it as the technology itself, but more our use and abuse of the tool, which is not something new, but that we don’t seem to have learned much about it over time … Perhaps it’s now a good time for us all to smarten up on our use of Twitter and these social tools to help evolve what we seem to have forgotten over time: the conversation :)

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  • Hi Luis … Happy to virtually cross paths again!

    Twitter can initiate a conversation, but is not the means by which to converse.
    – Tweets share information. (RTs become a form of marketing, not conversations).
    – The marketing’s call to action may aid communities of purpose–ex: Arab Spring http://tinyurl.com/buxmo2k.
    – You can tell a story by treading tweets http://tinyurl.com/qybadw3 or fake a conversation with hashtags (particularly fun during a tweetup).

    If you’d like to continue this conversation
    – Comment to my blog comment
    – IM or chat with me
    – Call me
    – Email me (works because I’m an email geek–as you know)
    … but please don’t tweet.

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