The Media Overvalues Twitter

I embrace social media. I am on Facebook. I am on Google+. I am on Twitter. Of those three the most misunderstood and incorrectly valued by the press is Twitter.

Today Howard Kurtz interviewed Jeff Jarvis on CNN’s Reliable Sources¹. They discussed a Jarvis originated tweet with the hashtag #f*ckwashington. (The original didn’t have an asterisk and it’s sort of juvenile that I choose to use it since you all knowthe actual word anyway.)

The discussion framed Twitter as a place for political discourse. Maybe it is, but that’s a minor piece of what Twitter is and unless you know what you’re looking for beforehand politics is impossible to stumble upon.

I have a few special Twitter searches set up on my computers. They’re not looking for keywords. They’re looking for people within a specific geographic region. There’s one centered on a 15 mile circle around New Haven. Another does the same for Hartford.

My original thought was locals would tip me off when something was going on in either place. It works sometimes–not dependably. Most time it’s worthless.

Having this localized firehose of messages lets me see tweets without worrying if they’re sent by people I care about. There’s no concern over the subject matter either. Not all tweets are geotagged yet, but if it’s sent near New Haven or near Hartford there’s a chance it gets to my screen.

New Haven has Yale University. Hartford is the state capitol. You would expect some political talk and smart discussions. And yet I rarely see political or learned tweets! They are a rarity.

Here’s a brief sample received within the last few minutes:

  • Damn, tht was short lived smh oh well. Better luck next time
  • I should brought some weed for this car ride #DecisionsRegreted
  • @Liana_Gianna Yeayeayea, I wass likee ahaa oh heyy lianaa.

You get the idea.

This is not to say there aren’t valuable tweets. They’re just tough to find in all the noise.

The people you want to hear from are already writing elsewhere… and not limited to 140 characters. I continue to come back to Twitter, but sometimes wonder why?

¹ – CNN’s Reliable Sources hosted by Kurtz examines the media and its role in news and society.

4 Responses to “The Media Overvalues Twitter”

  1. meredith says:

    Twitter is only as good as the people you follow. I view my feeds (2, since I have 2 accounts, one public for my work life and one protected for my personal use and venting :) in TweetDeck, and only check out the master timeline or a specific #tag when something major is going down, e.g. the situation last week in Norway or the Japanese earthquake/tsunami.

    If you follow certain news outlets and people who are good at RT-ing information when things are happening, Twitter can be the best real-time news source there is. Example: there was a shooting and hostage situation in the Flatiron district of Manhattan a few days ago, just a few blocks away from my office. I would’ve had zero clue anything was happening if it hadn’t been for eyewitness info RT-ed into my feed. None of the NYC news outlets ended up giving it a mention, but thanks to Twitter I knew to stay inside until I had word that the NYPD had taken the yellow tape down and opened up the block again. Situations like that showcase Twitter at its best.

  2. Donna from Hamden says:

    Don’t twitter. I have spend/waste enough time on FB. Of course it could also be because my cell phone is a phone, nothing else. =)

  3. Donna from Hamden says:

    Oops, I have “spent/wasted”

  4. Steve says:

    Twitter, and its varied derivations, are a complete and utter waste of time and bandwidth. We have a 512 character enterprise variation, and in a full year of watching, I have not seen a ‘tweet’ with any value at all. We gave up on internal usenet newsgroups, much to my dismay, where we could have reasoned, informative discussions, and could get questions asked an answered.

    One word describes my opinion: ‘uninstall’

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