There is an excellent post on TechCrunch about a site for retweeting. I hadn’t really thought about this because using Twitter in a browser doesn’t have this function. TweetDeck does (and if you aren’t using this program as your desktop browser you are loosing some extremely valuable tools and processes) and the wonderful iPhone app Tweetie. The program Retweetist purports that retweeting indicates authority or popularity and the program lists those tweets that have had numerous retweets (enough with the tweets…)
What seems to be happening here is that Twitter, since it seemingly is or is close to mainstream now, is beginning the “authority” or “popularity” or whatever you want to call it game, like past discussions on blogging and Technorati. Benedict Spinoza said something about vain people “It may easily come to pass that a vain man may become proud and imagine himself pleasing to all when he is in reality a universal nuisance.” That sums up the popularity discussion for me.
Those that I have followed who have used Twitter for over a year (and that is a generalization) don’t appear to be playing this game. Those that one follows or are following are part of a network. That network is built up over time and it becomes a valued network. To me it is a very simple criteria to follow someone – I have either met them personally or would like to meet them someday. The popularity that others may speak of is not important because what people state on twitter is for my ears. The authority that is being discussed is moot. Numerous times this network of fellow Twitterers have shared valuable thoughts and insights that have always made my day much more colourful. The stimulus of a single sentence is extremely positive. It is one’s own Bartlett’s – Familiar Quotations. There is humour, sadness, wisdom, political irony, joy and many more emotions attached to these 140 character blurts. I have rarely quit following anyone. That action takes place when people begin to twitter numerous times in a row, numerous days in a row. That isn’t twittering, that is Soapboxing.
Twittering is growing because people are finding new ways to challenge it’s limitations. Allowing saved searches in Tweetie gives you a very valuable tool to keep track of memes you want to follow. Being able to save linked URLs in Instapaper is just plain neat as you can quickly garner the days reading. Tweetdeck’s additional columns for 12 seconds and TwitScoop help tie in tweets to the Internet in a quick and easy fashion. This functionality will only grow. I just wish I could establish different groups to tweet to, like Jaiku (whoops). If everyone you followed, and you followed them for the right reasons, tweeted their most interesting URL once in awhile, that would be better than any search I could create in Google.
4 thoughts on “Retweeting”
This is a really good post Gene.
I recently went from about 150 following/followed to over 500 mainly to keep up with the Jonses (or actually Trey Reeme when we challenged each other to get to 1,000 which he is easily on the way to winning).
This big network effect is not all it’s cracked up to be. It’s just noise because everyone new to Twitter is just trying to collect numbers and the most annoying thing to me is that everyone calls themselves something like a new media evangelist or social media strategist. It’s like the blog-o-sphere where it seems half of the blogs are about blogs and blogging and ‘the conversation!’
TweetDeck has been my saving grace. I now have my group of about 50 or 60 people back. The folks that I actually know and care about and the rest is now just in my peripheral vision. I guess I could just unfollow the rest, but then I would lose all of that precious authority! 🙂
You write: “…Twitter, since it seemingly is or is close to mainstream now…”
My reply: When you’re standing in the middle of a hurricane, it’s hard to realize that there’s clear skies just a few miles away.
Meaning: You only think Twitter is “close to mainstream” because you see how many people are adopting it day to day. But I think we’re still far from mainstream. Last month, Hubspot estimated that there are 5 million Twitter accounts. See:
As for the obsession of counting up (and worse, bragging about) the # of followers one has… it reminds me of adolescents worried about how popular they are. (shame on you, Tim and Trey).
Ron, thanks for the report. Now I feel special knowing that I’m in the top 1.4% of all twitterers. 😉
Kidding, I totally agree, chasing followers is a meaningless exercise in vanity. That’s why I don’t.
But Tim, I’m going to raise the point that bloggers blogging about blogs is not silly (noisy, yes). After all, the rest of the world would not have been alerted to their existence had they not gained critical mass to become an established part of the web community. Likewise with twitter and other social media. Someone has to talk/email/blog/tweet and otherwise discuss it to get onto the radar in the first place.
And Ron, I always appreciate your skeptical viewpoint. But my take is: correct, twitter isn’t exactly mainstream, but the web was certainly not mainstream at inception in 1991. It wasn’t even “mainstream” in say, 1998. But it clearly is now. The question about MySpace, Facebook, twitter, blogs, podcasts, other social media is, what is the trend? Will the trend die out, hit a plateau, or keep growing? Will growth accelerate or decelerate? No easy answers, but twitter was at around two million users last fall. So it’s more than doubled in the last 4-6 months. There’s what’s-his-face on CNN who keeps referring to it, and Current TV now shows its twitterstream superimposed over things like the election coverage and inauguration.
I just realized the interesting connection in motivation that has led MySpace, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and virtually all social networks to keep a running tally of one’s quantity of friends:
Whatever site it is, gets you to “brag” about your total number of friends, encouraging you to bring more friends to the service so that you can increase the count. It’s a win-win, the site gets more people to sign up, and you get to brag about how popular you are.
Since having friends is usually not about winning a popularity contest, I’m hereby making a vow to keep our new friends feature on EverythingCU counter-free. We will not be showing the total quantity of friends to others. Because it’s about quality, not quantity, and quality of friends can not be measured.
Now the question remains, should we still show a friend total for one’s own self? Or should we force you to count it “manually” if you are that interested?