Sunday, February 22, 2009

Changing the Twitter Question

When you first experience Twitter, as an account holding user, your first problem, is passing a test. The pop quiz that confronts you is a simple, innocent-sounding question astride a 140 character limit text entry box.

"What are you doing?" is the famous query that most non-Twitter users think is boring, irrelevant to them, and time wasting. "Who cares what I'm doing?" they muse. "Why should I care what anybody's doing at any given second?" they wonder.

At first, most new Twitter users probably just slavishly obey the question, and tell what physical action they are engaged in: "eating a tuna sandwich", "sitting in the Peoria Airport for six hours due to a canceled flight", or "laughing at Mr. Uh Robert Um Gibbs".

Your first "tweets" (Twitter messages) are probably mundane, frivolous accounts of what position your body is in, whether you're alive or dead, asleep or awake, and what you're eating or listening to on you iPod.

Eventually, if you have any brains, you start posting "profound tweets" expressing your caustic opinions. You quickly learn how to state things in a brief, concise manner, which is the opposite of your old slomo blog post prolixities and verbal gushings in blog comments.

From long boring blog short, snappy Twitter messages. A marketable skill and a giant step in human communications evolution. We're so proud of you!

But one day you wake up, say good morning to your Twitter pals, and start wondering if that "What are you doing?" question could be improved. Your curiosity flames are fanned by @megfowler who was discussing this topic, in terms of newbies, on Twitter.

Let's try to improve Twitter!

What would be a better question, for newbies or old veteran users, to hover above the Twitter status update box?

Here are some suggestions for the badly needed...

REVISED Twitter Question:

* What are you thinking?

* What are you drinking?

* What are you wearing?

* What are you smelling? (Oh that, it's just another stimulus package bailout!)

* What are you doing -- and try not to sound so stupid this time!

* What the hell is wrong with you?

* What crime are you committing?

* What are you fantasizing?

* What are you wanting stimulus money for?

* WTF? You better have something to good to say in the box below:"

* WTF are you doing on Twitter again? Say something that has value or is funny, no more trivia about airports you're waiting in!

* What are not doing, but should be doing, and ought to do, once you get your Twitter-addicted ass off Twitter?

* What are you tattooing on the internet for all eternity by entering what you're doing in the text entry box below?

As people respond to my Twitter tweet about changing the Twitter question, I'll post their suggestions to update this post!

What say you?


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