If you read other journalism blogs, it’s Twitter this Twitter that. Twitter Twitter Twitter. Twitter will cure cancer. Twitter will save the world. Twitter is the now, Twitter is the future, Twitter will replace oxygen.
There’s a near-consensus out there, coming from a lot of people who I highly respect. People I align myself with on virtually every Web-related issue.
That’s why it feels so strange to disagree so strongly on this single issue.
I’ve just never bought the Twitter talk. I’ve never agreed that it would be at all useful for my reporting. I’ve never believed it would have any application to my social life.
But how can I ignore all those reliable voices when I’ve never tried it?
With that in mind, yesterday I began my Twitter Twial.
For one month, I’m going all-out. I started following all my favorite j-bloggers (and in return got a few followers who’ve likely never heard of me). I searched for locals. I searched for friends. I added a link to my Twitter page in my Facebook profile, and the Contact page on this blog.
I installed the Twitbin add-on to my Firefox browser at work and at home. I added a Twitter widget to display my latest Tweets on the blog here. I will feed links to my blog posts into Tweets. I’ve Twittered several times a day. I’ve had conversations there.
I’m going to give it my all for a full month. I’m going to keep an open mind for a full month. Then I’ll revisit this post and see if I’ve changed my mind about my two main skepticisms:
1) There just aren’t enough local users to help my reporting. The lack of net-savvy users in my area isn’t in my imagination. Twitterlocal found exactly one Tweet from my paper’s circulation area in the past 24 hours. And that came from someone I had already found through her blog. (A search on the Twitter site itself turns up slightly better results, but not much better.)
In my coverage area of Hershey, Pa., there isn’t a single active user.
If there aren’t enough people to learn from, there isn’t much of a point in me being there. I’m not going to insult or annoy the local users I do add by using my account as a link dump.
2) There just aren’t enough users to improve my social life. The only “real person” — that is, someone I’ve met in real life — with an account is a fellow reporter who shares my Twitter skepticism but is also curious about it. I asked all my friends, via my Facebook status, if anyone else was on it. No response, and searching through my friends didn’t turn any users up. So using the site to improve relationships with current friends seems pretty out of the question.
Last night, seeing Digidave ask via a Tweet if anyone was up for a 9 p.m. Taco Bell run helped me understand why it’d be such a great tool for him, and why I may never get to that point. (If only you lived in Harrisburg, Dave — I’m always up for a TB run.)
As it stands, Twitter strikes me as a great idea that only works in certain areas. Admittedly, Meranda Watling — probably my favorite blogger because I can better relate to the size of her paper and town than most of the other bloggers out there — makes me think twice about that claim.
That’s why I’m really giving this a serious try. I’m very willing to be proven wrong on this.