Twitter us skeptical

GCN Insider | We're more than a little skeptical about

We're not Luddites at GCN. Indeed, we pride ourselves on being on the lookout for emerging technologies and searching for ways to use them. But that doesn't mean every new technology has a bright future.

And, frankly, we're more than a little skeptical about twittering.

For those who've managed not to hear about twittering yet, it's a Web service that lets users post brief messages about their lives to a network via the Web, instant messaging or cell phone. As described by the Twitter site, it is 'a global community of friends and strangers answering one simple question: What are you doing?'

According to a columnist in Wired magazine, Twitter 'suggests where the Web is heading.' Clive Owen wrote, 'Twitter and other constant-contact media create social proprioception. They give a group of people a sense of itself, making possible weird, fascinating feats of coordination.'

As an example, he says even when he hasn't seen the person he's meeting for lunch in a month, he knows the wireframe outline of her life thanks to Twitter. 'She was nervous about last week's big presentation, got stuck in a rare spring snowstorm. ...'

What's left to talk about at lunch?

Fortunately, not all new technologies are destined to have a long lifespan.
Twittering seems to be the digital equivalent of the shared party-line telephone lines teenagers dialed into the 1960s to carry on conversations with other local teenagers. Party lines were all the rage for a few short years. And then they disappeared.

Why? Because they didn't really add anything to peoples' lives. They were just a new technological gimmick.

That's in contrast to new communications technologies such as voice mail and e-mail. Both technologies have made huge changes in the ways people communicate with one another and have brought clear benefits to both our work and personal lives. Those benefits have given those technologies some degree of staying power.
As for blogs, the jury is still out. Some of us are skeptical about blogs, at least as journalistic tools, but others have jumped into them with abandon. We'll see.

About the Author

Patrick Marshall is a freelance technology writer for GCN.

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