Saturday, February 14, 2009

No offence, but...

Where did all the new Twitter people come from?

Seems like we've spent the last 2 years tweeting on about how useful Twitter was to everyone who'd throw us a meeting, and now the world (well, the UK) has suddenly erupted in an explosion of iPhone driven textual ecstasy.

Earlier this month, @StephenFry (Englishman, timelord, 2nd most popular person on Twitter) was chatting about the whole micro-blogging thing with fellow abuser Johnathan Ross on Beeb1, causing a weapons-grade leap in users. In the last month alone, UK usership has tripled (yeah, tripled) and the Twitter site is now the 90th 'most-visited website among British internet users'. Heaven help us. "Over the last 12 months traffic to has increased 27-fold," to quote young Robin Goad, at Hitwise.

With long-time users and cornerstone Brit celebs like JohnCleese leading the way, and coming out of the SMS closet this month we also have Radio 1 DJs Chris Moyles and Russel Brand (to name but a few). All this further pushing Twitter under the nose of the masses. Even the local print press is finally hopping on the bandwagon. Most excellent news for us UK social media types who were banging on about this being the next big thing some 18 months ago (phew).

Okay, so, to the crux of this post. Suddenly, every Web2.0 bod, local reporter, camera assistant, media student and virtual worlds pundit I've ever worked with has created a Twitter account and (from having my email address and seeing my Twitter URL on my business cards/footers) has started following me straight off the bat.

Cool folks, thanks. Now, I've been hovered around 600 followers and follow about 80 people. In my opinion, Twitter isn't really the format in which to follow much more than that, maybe up to as much as 120 tops. Anything in excess is what Friendfeed is for.

I don't actively seek followers on my personal account. Now, I'm not saying I won't follow you, but, I sporadically follow people as I find them or because they are interesting and then unfollow them once I need different opinions on different topics or if, for example, they stop posting. I'd expect you to do the same with me.

I don't want to sound like some kind of Twitter-snob, but I look for things that interest me there and then and gather the community I need to bring me the information I want. This could be local news from local friends like @Derbydaz71 and @DexterMixwith (who introduced *me* to Twitter). It could be general or UK news from @BreakingTweets, @BreakingNews or the BBC and tech news from reliable sources (who don't need the links). I follow the virtual worlds info from friends and bloggers like @slhamlet, @BevanWhitfield and @MalBurns and get links delivered by my professional social networking contacts like @publicvoice, @microgeist,
Tamar Weinberg, @MoniqueElwell, and @alizasherman. Sure I have international friends who just tell me what they are having for lunch like @TerryLightfoot, @SinTrenton, and @KiraKitty (but it's the best way to keep in-touch with folks not in my time-zone when their kids take first steps, to know how that broken foot is doing, or when the Dingo runs into the patio doors). Yeah, I even get my chuckle-worthy sci-fi geekisums via Twitter c/o @TachyonTV, @LouisTrapani and @JamesNaugton. These are just a few from the many I've stuck with. I have 'friends' on Twitter with whom I have regular contact nowhere else. Twitter for me is an interesting stream of news and data that sums up my personal wants and interests.

Please don't be offended if I unfollow you, or just don't follow you at all. It's nothing personal, it's all about the information. I'd hope you'd do the same to me. Sack me if I'm dull :-) That's how 'I' use Twitter, at least with my @lactose (edit: now @nikhewitt) account anyway. If you wanna chat, grab me on Skype, messenger, in SL, Facebook, or '@' me so I listen.

We all use Twitter in different ways. Have fun with it, enjoy, get what you want out of it, that's what it's about. And no offense :-)