Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Twitter Enthusiasm Dwindling

I've spent Easter in bed with a high fever. After a few days of this my brain is deep fried, my inbox a disaster, and I'm not in the shape to do anything besides occasionally scrolling through my news feeds. On the search for something to write that doesn't require much brain use, let me offer a self-observation.

I've pretty much stopped using Twitter. Years ago it seemed like a useful platform to aggregate and share information quickly and easily. But it's turned out to be pretty much useless when it comes to organizing information. My Twitter feed is inevitably dominated by a handful of people who don't seem to be doing anything else than tweeting, at a frequency 100 times higher than everybody else. I did create a few lists to circumvent the problem, but it's cumbersome and also doesn't really solve the main issue, that most tweets are just not of interest to me. They're replies to somebody's reply, or comments on somebody's comment. Ordered by time, not by topic. And needless to say, there's things that don't fit into 140 characters. This guy has made a similar self-observation of Twitter tiredness.

Which is why, these days I'm pretty much relying on facebook for my social networking. I've looked at G+, but not much seems to be going on there, or at least not among the people in my circles. And that what's going on seems to be an echo of what they're doing on facebook. My main news source is still RSS feeds, but facebook does a good job with the interesting and amusing bits that pass through the network. And it has the big benefit that commenting is easy, so it's turned out to be a comfortable platform to discuss those recent news, more so than Twitter or Blogger.

So how about you? Still using twitter?


  1. Still using Twitter? I never have used it. I am no technophobe and spend a lot of time on the internet, but Twitter always seemed a waste of time to me. Facebook might be OK for some people, but not for me. Like you, I rely mainly on RSS feeds.

    Of course, for stuff in usenet, one has a common interface to all groups, posts are ordered by topic then by date, one can set entire threads (and individual posts) to "read" whether one has read them or not, the same post in several groups is seen only once, one can edit posts locally on the OS of one's choice, one can update things so that one sees all new posts in all groups immediately etc etc. In other words, it will take some time, if ever, until blogs become as efficient as early 1990s usenet.

  2. Hi Phillip,

    Indeed, I really don't understand why, in face of all the possibilities that we have, most of what we're being offered is so thoroughly useless. Take facebook. They roll out some bizarre search feature that allows you to find out which restaurants your friends with dogs like (or something like that, not having tried it), but there's no way to search through one's own items looking for keywords! Neither is there any way to tag items or sort your news into folders, etc etc.

    One of the big benefits of Twitter is that it's simple. There's not much clutter around it. That has some appeal. I originally used it because it was very compatible with other interfaces, eg post a link on Twitter and you can automatically also post it on facebook but not the other way round. And I see that there's people in my feed who still do that. Best,


  3. Never used any of the social networks.

    The absence of the every day (F2F) social norms in these "social" networks revealed the dark side of human nature and it's a horrific one.

    Take a look at the comments in blogs and other articles for example.

    It's just depressing...

  4. Hi Giotis,

    If you've never used any of these social networks, then what is your opinion based on? Best,


  5. From what I read and from the quality of comments in various blogs and articles on the net.

    I guess similar stuff are happening in Facebook too although I admit I've never used it.

  6. I've been finding Twitter useful as a news feed mostly. As a general rule I only follow organizations or individuals that write informational posts (not personal ones). This differs from my Facebook use, which is mostly on a personal level. I'm now finding myself separating my own posts along the same lines: personal/fun stuff on Facebook and informational/political stuff on Twitter. This also has to do with who I'm "friends" with on both platforms. It is working decently for now.

  7. At least from my experience exchanges on fb work much better than in the average comment section. There's always some noise of course, but very little outright hostility or useless offense. I guess that's for two reasons. One is that most people aren't anonymous, and even if they are pseudonymous, it's too much of a pain to build up an account to then just use it for trolling. And second, you can easily block or unfriend people if they get too annoying. The quality of comments: varies dramatically. Depends on the topic and the people you're discussing with. Not much surprise in this I guess.

    What is quite annoying about fb though is that conversations tend to drown in a soup of other updates and notifications that they pour onto you. I've unsubscribed from all email notifications, but I still get them when I'm logged in.



  8. Google+ is where mathematicians and physicist are the stars with many thousands of followers. Check e.g. John Baez: https://plus.google.com/117663015413546257905/posts

    Terence Tao or Timothy Gowers also have 20k+ followers.

    I mainly using Google+ now, it's where all the interesting discussions are happening.

  9. "Indeed, I really don't understand why, in face of all the possibilities that we have, most of what we're being offered is so thoroughly useless."

    Well, these are services provided at no cost to the user. They have to make money somehow. If there is a choice between user-friendliness and profit, then of course profit will dominate. The more monopolistic these things become, the less of a danger that people will leave when the profit/user-friendliness ratio becomes too high.

    This is an advantage of usenet: the newsreader is an application. Anyone can write one; it is an open protocol. This is distinct from the servers which host articles. So, there is no way one platform can become dominant, except by being the best for everyone (which hasn't happened). With Facebook, Google+ etc, the data and the applications which deal with them are all at the same place.

    Since Google changed things so that if one is logged into one service, one is logged into all of them, I am using Google stuff less. I had to sign up for Blogger in order to comment here. I like to stay logged in here but not when using Google as a search engine. (Yes, there are alternatives, but last time I checked none were really usable. One, for instance, opened a new window for every link.)

    BTW, "in face of" == "angesichts"? I've never heard it used this way in English. I would say "looking at" or "considering".

  10. Hi Bee, I joined up just a few days ago. The idea was to send a few post back while I was at Cambridge but I never got around to it.
    I haven't found any interesting tweets so far as I have no interest in celebreties - can you recommend anything?
    Regards, Cormac

  11. hi Bee,

    Looking at your twitter for interesting links mostly....while I have no account.

    I was involved with social media development on the net, so many of these things can be used....yet, never really moved forward with all the gadgets except blogger and used wordpress, as a back up.

    Glad you science people are involved.


  12. Honestly, the whole tweet thing has me completely baffled. I never signed up because I couldn't imagine either sending or receiving tweets that would have any genuine interest. Unless maybe I was at the bed of some critically ill celebrity, and the world was breathlessly waiting to learn how the operation turned out.

    I happen to find Bee extremely interesting, and I follow this blog regularly. But I'm assuming whatever she has to say of real interest will turn up in this blog.

    Can you give us an example, Bee, of a tweet of yours that would change my mind on that score? And would it be worth it to regularly read through all such tweets looking for some valuable nugget that wouldn't show up on the blog?

    I'm glad to learn that you have finally decided this activity is a waste of time, but I'm curious to learn why you ever thought it worth your while. I'm not being facetious, I'm genuinely curious.

  13. Hi Doc,

    I've used Twitter primarily to share links with brief summaries/comments. Same thing I do on FB now. These links/comments do not normally show up on this blog, because I've stopped doing link dumps some years ago. Whether you think any of that is interesting, I don't know of course. The last few links that we discussed were these


    So now you can make up your own mind. You're welcome on my FB friend list :o) Best,


  14. Hi Coraifeartaigh,

    I'd recommend starting with Sean Carroll, Phil Plait, Chad Orzel, FQXi and George Musser. Once you have that, see what further suggestions pop up. Tommaso Dorigo is also on Twitter since recently. Best,


  15. Hi Phillip,

    What I don't understand is that the lack of user-friendliness doesn't seem to benefit profit either. It's just that: lack of user-friendliness. I mean, take the example I mentioned earlier, about how desorganized the FB timeline is and how useless for any archiving purposes. Imagine you could share articles and tag them with keywords and file them in folders and sub-folders. Suddenly it might become useful to keep your life and even work organized! Don't you think that people would appreciate it? I don't get it, why such an obvious possibility isn't implemented. Best,


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  17. Hi Alyssa,

    Yes, I can see that this has its use because it circumvents most of the Twitter clutter. I use a feed reader to that end though, which I find more convenient in terms of creating categories, tagging, archiving and sharing. Best,




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