Janet Street-Porter: Surely She's An Obvious Twitterati Member?

This is a 'mini blog post' on Janet Street-Porter's article in The Independent.

As per usual, while The Guardian grows more and more Twitter obsessed (I'm expecting the headline "Twitter saves the world" from them soon), The Independent dredges up another anti-social networking article bringing them in line with The Daily Mail and Express. The truth lies somewhere in the middle, unsurprisingly.

There is a real need for a genuinely critical article of Twitter by someone who has used the service. Janet, your article isn't it. It's counterproductive, particularly as you've made the usual mistake of criticising some of the superficial features. But dig deeper and you'll find that the reason there's a 140 character limit is because it's the perfect length for a hyperlink (normally leading to a blog or even -shock horror- your article) and a few descriptive words. Also bear in mind that Twitter now has picture and video plug-ins, which you can link to from a tweet. How did that old saying go? A picture tells a thousand words?

Just like the telephone or even the television, Twitter is extremely good for some things and bad at other things. I wouldn't ever use Twitter to conduct a job interview, for example. But then I think job interviews held over the telephone are bad too - where's the body language to study? Twitter is very good at transporting info very VERY quickly and it's genuinely worldwide. You can use a bog-standard mobile phone, so it doesn't alienate people who don't have a computer. Don't trivialise it's use in the Iran elections or in helping break up the lies that Fox News spread about Obama's healthcare bill.

In short, I've always felt the strengths of Twitter is when using it for 'micro-blogging' or information sharing. It also helps if you have strong opinions to share. Using it as a 'sleb' following machine is normally relatively useless at best, unless you're bringing something interesting to the table (e.g. if you really want to talk to Wossy, bring your obscure film trivia with you). I always think of Twitter as a 'thought networking' tool, as opposed to 'social networking' tool, as I think it's surprisingly bad for the latter. Normally, if social interaction is to continue post-Twitter with anyone, then Facebook, email or the real-world are better.

In short, Twitter is the beginning of major conversation, but certainly not the end of it. There are better critical articles one can write about Twitter. For example, there does appear to be a liberal bias built into it and the broadcast media luvvies utterly love it, particularly ones who have big mouths and opinions. Which rather baffles me as to why you're not on Twitter, Ms Street-Porter.