mar 29

You Twit

I was live (live! on tv!) on G4's Attack of the Show today, propagandizing about Twitter.

It was a big mock battle: me versus anti-Twitterite Natali Del Conte (who is a former TechCrunch writer and is now at Podshow). The gist of the show was asking if Twitter is a fad, but I didn't even get around to making my most salient point on this matter: who cares!

I've already blabbed about Twitter more than enough in many different places, but I want to address this idea of "fads" in social web applications. Some people may eschew the comparison but I'm not afraid to admit it: Twitter actually does remind me of Friendster.

When Friendster burst on the scene in the summer of 2003, it seemed like so many things at once: 1) a giddy little experiment in the radical conflation of communication and publishing, 2) a disorienting visualization of your friend and your friends' friends, 3) yet another chink in the armor of privacy in her battle against transparency, and 4) something that would probably get you in deep trouble when you noticed that girl was one-degree of separation from that other girl.

And yet, during the entire Summer of Friendster, everyone seemed to sorta agree: "This is ridiculously fun, but I probably won't be doing it next month."

Surprise, surprise: you weren't.

The truth is, even though I predicted last year (#12) that Google would buy Twitter, I have no idea if Twitter is the next MySpace. Fuck, I don't really even think MySpace is the next MySpace. The thrill of Twitter is actually that you feel like you could quit using it at any moment. (I've heard a rumor that some people also say this about crack. But I don't trust rumors.)

I think we've entered a stage where web apps might just be like tv shows -- exhilarating for a while, but gone tomorrow. And you know what? I'm totally cool with that. Why do we resist it? In other words, I contend that Twitter is basically like the first season of Lost.

And finally, a note on production: it looks like I'm giving Natali suspicious looks during the interview, but in reality I can't see her. I'm in a small room staring at a camera, with a strange backdrop of the Space Needle behind me. I have no idea what any of the people on the show even look like. Truth be told, if I had known what Natali looked like, I would have flirted more.

Bonus points: I use the phrase "death by croutons" in the segment. Score!


Again, thanks for coming on Rex, you were great.

I find Twitter fascinating as well but for a much different reason. I heard about it quite a while ago, and have a bunch of friends who are ga-ga over it. However, each time I've visited and planned on starting an account, I always get stopped at part where I'm supposed to upload my picture. It must've happened a half-dozen times so far.

Everytime I think to myself, why am I doing this? And I don't. Weirdly, up until Twitter I'd sign up for everything and I was totally into the idea of the social web.

I can't tell if it's the fact that I've got a 3 year-old, my own web projects & a TV show to run (in other words I'm too busy), if I've finally just gotten too old or that there's something inherently different to me about Twitter than those other things (blogging, MySpace, YT, etc.).

Maybe I'll go do it today, just to say I've done it.

Anyways, great work on the show.

-Gavin; AOTS

posted by Gavin at 11:35 AM on March 29, 2007

Natali is hot. I just can't get over the spelling of her name.

The croutons comment was hilarious. A new Rexism!

posted by chuck at 11:32 PM on March 29, 2007

I wish you would have gotten more screen time as your comments were providing some good insight on why Twitter is relevant. I still "don't get" why I had a mullet in high school and tucked and rolled my jeans in college.

posted by rico at 2:51 AM on March 30, 2007

This reminds me of the JFK/Nixon debates...

When I listened to this discussion on MPR on the drive to work it sounded like Rex was the clear winner. ...but when I watched the video stream from G4 I could clearly see that Natali was much, much more compelling than Rex. :-P

Keep talkin' almost got me thinking about joining Twitter - not that my blather we be worthy of being your Twitter friend.

posted by weierd at 11:09 AM on March 30, 2007

Why do we resist it? Well - isn't there something a little disconcerting about the repeated dissolution of sites that are ostensibly about social networking? I mean, it's not like people jump off these things because they've found face-to-face social fulfilment right? Yes, this sounds curmudgeonly and luddite-ish, but Rex, you're on my Twitter friend list and I'm babbling nonsense with the rest of the world. But isn't this sort of uncritical acceptance of any and all webtrends... oh fuck, I'll say it: dangerous?

posted by Nav at 7:13 PM on April 1, 2007

I don't feel like I'm uncritically adopting anything -- I like Twitter before it was a trend. And even if it were a trend, I can't imagine anything "dangerous" about it, any more than I can imagine "the internet" and "rock n roll" and "britney spears" being dangerous.

posted by Rex at 7:31 PM on April 1, 2007

Sorry - you're right, calling it dangerous was pushing it. But the 'it' I was referring to wasn't Twitter itself - which I actually quite like - it was the pace at which social networks are created and then disappear. The increasing pace seems to at least be tangentially linked to the increasing impossibility of an 'outside' to democratic capitalism, and I think it's that that worries me. I think that's what bugged me so much about the whole 'snack culture' bit - that we can be smart and document the what and why, but we can't posit any alternatives. But speaking of pushing things too far... I'm probably being alarmist, because I love reading your twitters. Anyhoo, blog comments not appropriate place to discuss blah, blah etc etc.

posted by Nav at 10:00 PM on April 1, 2007

So... if we follow the evolution, we should have a dog based twitter in the summer of 2011 (or sooner) we should have a dog based twitter.

posted by Sandman at 10:49 AM on April 2, 2007

Chuck is right. Natali Del Conte is way cute.

posted by Taylor at 6:16 PM on April 2, 2007

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