Twitter: Waste of time or social tool?

by Mathew on December 12, 2007 · 17 comments

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.

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