Daily Archives: April 23, 2009

The value of Twitter

What is the value of a telephone? If you were to listen to a random set of phone calls over a day, what would you hear? You’d hear a lot of “Hey”, “Hi”, “How’s it going?”, “What’s up?”, “Not much”, “um”, “yeah”, “no”, “I dunno”, “ok”, “bye” “see ya”. Clearly not much value there.

Worse, not only is the content poor, but, but the interface is useless. You can’t see the person you are talking to, which as we all know is a terrible limitation. To contact them you have to remember this 10 digit number. And you have to pay a fee to have the conversation. Truly awful.

Of course this is absurd. Telephones are essential. We have more and more of them in our lives. And not just for simple exchanges. How many of us have waited by the phone in the hope – or dread – of receiving an important call? And having received it, how many of us have cried or laughed or slumped in relief or yelped for joy? I can remember many such calls. I am sure you can too.

This brings me to Twitter (and for that matter, SMS). So much of it may seem trivial or pointless at times. But I have heard the relief in someone commenting on the revived health of their parents or the joy of a loved one returning or the sadness of a relative dying. I have seen beautiful photos of places and people via Twitpics. I have heard the songs that make people dance and sing and lament via blip.fm. As time passes, I expect to see more ways that these short bursts of text allow me to communicate with others.

So when people write and complain about this or that regarding Twitter I wonder what they are thinking. What I am thinking is that it is a reflection of people and the human condition through this particular medium, just like the telephone or the letter or any other media we use. Sure, it can be mundane. And the tool itself is limited. But what is expressed is often as rich as anything that we can express as individuals. People who miss out on that are missing out on a lot.

I thought of this after reading a number of critical articles at the NYTimes.com web site recently. There’s this one (Let them eat tweets), this one (What annoys me about twitter), and this one (To tweet or not to tweet). After I read them, I wrote the above. Clearly they struck a nerve, for some other people wrote some critiques of them at the same time as I did, including this one here (In defense of twitter) and here (Maureen Dowd interviews telephone inventor).

Want to go faster? You need to train

It’s interesting: I can’t tell if the title of this article is what I read (“Want to Go Faster? You Need a Trainer”) or what the link says (“Proper Training Is a Critical Element to Athletic Success“). In my experience, you don’t need a trainer to get faster as a runner (or likely any other sport). However, you do need to properly train.

Training properly doesn’t have to be complicated, but it does help to get some guidance. It doesn’t have to be a trainer, though. For example, if you want to become a better runner, you can ask friends who run seriously for help. You can do research on the web. You can join a running group. You can even ask me. 🙂

All these things can help you go faster. As the article in the NYTimes.com says:

If your goal is to be faster, you have to train.”

It’s as simple as that. And yes, you can get a trainer as well. Just don’t believe that the only way you can get fast is by getting one.