It’s interesting to see some of the reactions to Scott Karp’s post on Twitter and why he stopped using it at Publishing 2.0, a post which has now topped the cluster of Techmeme discussion about Twitter). Anne Zelenka, who writes for Web Worker Daily — part of Om Malik’s GigaOmniMedia — has a fairly visceral response, which is to call Scott’s post insulting.

The clear implication, she says, is that Scott finds talking to people like her a massive waste of time. In the classic sense, of course, it is a waste of time. As Scott quite rightly points out, the signal-to-noise ratio on Twitter is quite low in many cases — there’s a lot of banter and chat and extraneous information of various kinds, and that can make it difficult to get some good, solid work done. It’s like having the TV on too loud, or people chatting behind you when you’re trying to do something.

I think what Anne’s driving at, though, is that some of this social interaction, some of this “ambient intimacy,” is good for us — even if it does get in the way of our actual work. I would compare it to working at home versus working at my office: at home, I can actually get a lot more accomplished, but I miss the social interaction, the miscellaneous chatting and random conversations with co-workers. Some of it is just socializing, but some of it has value — although it may not be immediately obvious.

About the author

Mathew 2415 posts

I'm a Toronto-based former senior writer with Gigaom and my favorite things to write about are social technology, media and the evolution of online behavior

17 Responses to “Twitter: Waste of time or social tool?”
  1. Well, I found that you put this post up via twitter, soooo…

  2. Definitely a waste of time. I work in high tech and no one i know over the age of 30 uses (or even really understands) twitter – except the blogosphere who, in all fairness, needs to keep up with this constant news feed as it's part of their job. This is not saying there isn't a place for it. But older people (meaning: older than 30!) are generally too busy solving problems at work, home lives with families, etc. I have a cell phone, email on my cell, skype, and IM. People can reach me if they need but they certainly do not need to be kept updated of my every useless thought.

  3. […] Mathew Ingram is on a similar vein, waxing eloquent on the notion of “ambient intimacy.”  I first came across that term via Leisa Reichelt.  There is no question that continual casual contact promotes much deeper communication than many people suspect.  It’s one reason why teams geographically separated have a hard time communicating as well as a group all in one place.  I’m just not sure Twitter is an adequate substitute.  The water cooler may in fact be a better tool after all.  Still, Twitter beats no contact at all by a lot, and it lets you have some form of ambient intimacy with a whole lot more people. […]

  4. […] the great Twitter debate continues to rage on (and on), I get the feeling we’re missing a key point of what true connections and […]

  5. I think it might have some business applications. Here's my (slightly contrived) situation http://www.bookbook.com.au/wordpress/?p=97

  6. […] can be a big waste of time, as Scott Karp noted in a recent post (my response at the time is here). But then, as more than one person has noted, the Internet can be a big waste of time too. And […]

  7. […] waste of time (one that made Anne Zelenka kind of mad). I wrote about Scott’s decision here, and said I understood, but that I personally get a lot out of […]

  8. […] are a lot of discussions out on the web about Twitter and that may or may not be a waste of […]

  9. […] mathewingram.com/work | Twitter: Waste of time or social tool? […]

  10. […] Twitter: Waste of time or social tool? […]

  11. What's it cost to Twitter… not much…

    COMPARATIVE COST FACTS

    About 82% of web cost per click (cpc) advertising costs from $ 0.00 to $ 0.30 (cents cpc) and of that more than half is between $ 0.10 and $ 0.19 (cents cpc) Say you pay an average of $0.15 cpc 1200 clicks will cost you $180.00

    “SEM firms typically bill monthly. They manage your PPC search advertising and paid-inclusion spend. For core professional services, which include complete SEO, expect to spend from $90,000 to $240,000 per Web site annually for a full-service SEM firm or $50,000 to $90,000 for a solo consultant or smaller SEM company.” clickz.com

    Advertising budget?? Take autos as an example: Cost per click for “autos” is $0.29 – $0.64, Clicks per day is 9,800 – 12,400, Cost per day $2,830.00k – $7,980.00 spread between a reported 4 advertisers. spyfu.com

    So that's on average $10,810.00 per day / 4 = $2702.50 X 365 days = $ 986,412.50 p.a. / 12 = $82,201.04 p.month

    I ask again considering the potential reach of Twitter is it worth it?

    Ric http://tr.im/kplb

  12. What's it cost to Twitter… not much…

    COMPARATIVE COST FACTS

    About 82% of web cost per click (cpc) advertising costs from $ 0.00 to $ 0.30 (cents cpc) and of that more than half is between $ 0.10 and $ 0.19 (cents cpc) Say you pay an average of $0.15 cpc 1200 clicks will cost you $180.00

    “SEM firms typically bill monthly. They manage your PPC search advertising and paid-inclusion spend. For core professional services, which include complete SEO, expect to spend from $90,000 to $240,000 per Web site annually for a full-service SEM firm or $50,000 to $90,000 for a solo consultant or smaller SEM company.” clickz.com

    Advertising budget?? Take autos as an example: Cost per click for “autos” is $0.29 – $0.64, Clicks per day is 9,800 – 12,400, Cost per day $2,830.00k – $7,980.00 spread between a reported 4 advertisers. spyfu.com

    So that's on average $10,810.00 per day / 4 = $2702.50 X 365 days = $ 986,412.50 p.a. / 12 = $82,201.04 p.month

    I ask again considering the potential reach of Twitter is it worth it?

    Ric http://tr.im/kplb

  13. […] mathewingram.com/work | Twitter: Waste of time or social tool? […]

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