It’s kind of odd to see how people use Twitter, or FriendFeed (more on FriendFeed some other day, I think). But before I get to other people, I should try to answer this about myself: how do I use Twitter?
I have three “types of entities” on my Twitter “followed” list (that contains 14 people as of now – not that many, which shows I’m really not a big twitterer):
1) Friends: not too many of those (4). Most my friends, as far as I know, don’t use Twitter. Not a lot of traffic here at all.
2) People that seem to have interesting ideas and I was suggested to follow: That’s the bulk of it (8), and 95% of all the traffic of messages. They vary between famous “technologists” like Jason Calacanis, founder of Mahalo.com, and Amazon’s CTO Werner Vogels (all Wikipedia pages, how lazy of me). I look here for interesting links and ideas floating around.
3) “Automated” or “semi-automated” users: Only 2, that include a weather helper and a TWiTlive tracker. Very little traffic here, and not too useful at all.
I used to have a little more, but I’ve migrated some of them to FriendFeed. As I said, I’ll talk about FriendFeed some other day. I’m not sure I’m ready for a final conclusion about the system.
So, my use of it is quite straight-forward. I don’t twitter everything that happens to me. Actually sometimes I feel like I should twitter more and it still won’t feel like I’m trying to broadcast to everybody every small step I make, which is very likely to be a huge waste of my time and all my followers time (13 as for now).
Which brings me to my followers, the odd piece of this equation: who is following me? Like me following people, there are some friends, there are some that automatically follow you if you follow them, but there is a bulk of completely random people. I’m not sure if they do this to try and see if you’ll follow them in return and boost their following crowd (most of those have 3K+ people they follow and usually the same order of magnitude of people that follow them), or if it’s just a mistake or temporary curiosity and as my twitter traffic is so low, they don’t care to remove myself from their list. Who knows?
Anyway, twitter gives a lot of people to be strange, because it touches directly their ego. Your twitter is all about you. You choose who to follow, and you lure people to follow you. It’s like a social network site, but where the connection is less “powerful” than friendship, so it’s much easier to get very large numbers and keep growing. Also, it doesn’t seem to have constraints on the maximum number of “friends” like most social networks systems.
It certainly doesn’t bother me, because it’s expected and maybe even healthy for these people. Better than getting attention by doing other crazy things like killing people in the middle of the streets somewhere. Who knows how many lives twitter hasn’t saved? And no, productivity is not alive.