Ok, I'll be honest. I love the bloody thing. At the moment, its the best and most useful tool out there. Why?
Is it because its a conversation? Well.. no.
Whilst it is true that twitter is more conversational than say television or newspapers, the same cannot necessarily be said for talkback radio, email, instant messaging and more. In fact I think as a technology it is close to talkback in its interaction level.
Twitter is talkback on steriods
And thats why I love it. After listening to talkback radio all day for 3 years during a stint at Media Monitors, I have to admit I became fond of the thing.
Talkback is essential structured around the personality of the presenters. At its essense, the talkback radio listners tune in regularlybecause they trust that person in some way. Whilst it may not necessarily be because they agree with what they say, but they do trust them to act in a certain way and filter the news in a way that matters to them.
The content largely comes from the listeners. Recently I was watching Dave in the life - Shock Jocks with one of my old Media Monitors buddies Brent Ballinski. I actually found a lot of insight in what, of all people, Bob Francis had to say about talkback. He sits there and "hopes to god that people call".
Realtime user generated media started long before even Youtube graced us with its presence.
Twitter enhances real time user genereated media
But what does it do that broadcast could never hope for. Was it timeliness. Well not excatly. Radio is almost instant. No, its about enhancments and choice.
Imagine a talback radio show, but with a bit more pull than push. It allows the real time broadcast of thoughts, ideas and topics.
When you follow people on twitter, there is a trust that you will find something of value in this other person. You decide to pull down their stream. With easy access to enhanced information. Ttwitter can use the entire web as a platform, it is that simplicity that makes it special.
Recent data that shows that 10% of the community provides 90% of the tweets. This is a ratio that lends itself to a broadcast medium. The State of the Twittersphere report also has some interesting stats to further reinforce its use as a broadcast medium.
You follow the broadcasters you know, and the hastags and trending topics just the talkback callers would be focussed in a stream on a particular topic.
The steady stream of, sometimes insightful, sometimes banal and sometimes downright scary comments is eerily similar to what can be heard on talkback on occasion.
But imagine a custom radio station with all your favorite personalities and information, posted live as they were created. Making them both timely and personalised to the user.
But what does this mean?
Whilst it would be nice to get caught up in the hype that is twittermania. It would be wise to realise that it is just another part of the further fragmentation of media channels. Its an exciting new medium to make no mistake. And one that has the ability to change the perception of social media.
- Digg was always about the herd mentality. It was about games and power and pure populism. But it was always tied to a website;
- Myspace was about making yourselft looking cool, so a great place for musicians and teenagers;
- Facebook is for your friends, the ones who you socialise with. But not really used for serious business;
- Linkedin pimps your resume;
- and Twitter is lets you get the information, news and opinion you want, from the "broadcasters" you trust.
So it doesnt matter if people are overhyping this medium a little. Just because it is here today doesnt mean there wont be a much better service right around the corner which we will flock to in droves. But for the moment, its the best one we have.