Saturday, November 28, 2009

Twitter Changes the Question and Improves Its Content

Finally, Twitter is depersonalized! They changed the question (or "prompt"), and it promises to be a huge improvement. Hopefully, everyone will pay attention and slavishly obey the new inquiry.

I blogged, in a comical manner, about "Changing the Twitter Question" back in February 2009. Twitter has finally seen the error of their ways. Follow me on Twitter, I'm: @vaspersthegrate

"What are you doing right now?" was the original question that greeted Twitter users, right above the small text entry box that permitted only 140 characters per message or "tweet". This Twitter inquiry was mocked by detractors."Who cares?" and "How narcissistic!" were common responses by those who did not "get on Twitter" and wanted to emphasize the frivolity of such an application.

Sarcasm and disparagement directed toward Twitter and Twitter users mirrored the attacks on blogs years ago when they were called "web logs". Old fashioned "slomo" (slow motion) blogs were derided as "online journals" that only myopic, self-centered teenagers would ever care about.

When CEOs began to use them, and mainstream journalists got "Ratherized", starting with Dan Rather, and individuals as well as organizations realized that blogs were great as mini-websites they could design, update, and control all by themselves, they gradually gained acceptance.

Twitter also entered the fabric of daily life as cable news networks began using Twitter and incorporating tweets as timely, spontaneous, average folk feedback on news items.

Tragic events like school shootings, the Burmese massacres of Buddhist monk dissidents, the corrupt Iran elections, the Balloon Boy Hoax, and the Ft. Hood lone terrorist massacre brought Twitter into the limelight as a viable means of interpersonal communication and first hand news reporting by citizen journalists.

But, in spite of occasional good uses of Twitter vanity question persisted in generating boring personal drivel, reducing the overall value and relevance of Twitter content.

"What are YOU doing right now?" spawned endless geysers of private details to bloat the Twittersphere. Many users could not think outside that dreadful box. We had to hear about what they ate for lunch, what con artist blog conference they were attending, and what airport they were at.

No more!

"What's happening?" is the new question.

Interpretation: Twitter no longer cares about what you and I are doing. Or what we are thinking. Twitter now enlists us all to be citizen journalists. We are commanded to report on what's going on around us, or being done to us (by the government or whatever?)

Twitter wants you to be a news source, probably due to how rich and valuable such content is to the mainstream media and other interested parties. Perhaps now the quality of tweets will skyrocket!

Another benefit: spammers will not be as likely to hype their junk! It may be more difficult to tweet a sales message. Commercial usage of Twitter may wane and completely disappear. Nobody joins a social network to receive hype or corporate PR anyway! Purity and joy are within reach once again!

It may be harder to reply to "What's happening?" with relentless inspirational quotes!

It may be harder to reply to "What's happening?" with announcements of dubious investment opportunities, Twitter Follower Acquisition Automation apps, and declarations of private affairs and vague feelings that nobody wants to clutter their mind with!


Twitter finally figured it out!

We want to know "What's happening?" and NOT "What are you doing?"!!

Prediction: Eventually, the Twitter question will be changed to "WTF?"


FURTHER READING: Brian Solis post "On Twitter, What Are You Doing? Was Always the Wrong Question".


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