Hung Truong: The Blog!

Twitter? I Hardly Know Her!

March 12, 2009 | 2 Minute Read


Sometimes it’s fun to go look at what I wrote, say, two years ago and compare it to how I feel now. Case in point: Twitter. Almost two years ago, I wrote that:

Now, I actually use the Facebook updates now and then, but it seems like people who use Twitter do this to the max. Like they update multiple times a day. Are these people so self-centered that they think everyone needs to know what they’re doing?

In Twitter, the ability to update is the entire application itself. To me, Twitter is simply a subset of what Facebook already provides. Why would you ever need both?

This historical post is both illuminating and funny for a number of reasons. Apparently in the past I hardly updated my Facebook status at all. These days I probably do so at least once a day, and usually multiple times a day. I guess that’s just an indicator of how social norms have changed in regards to sharing personal information online: what was thought of as “oversharing” in the past is basically normal now. It’s also funny that I recognized that Twitter was a subset of Facebook. Recently I’ve come to believe that being a subset is actually a feature.

I think Twitter hit critical mass for me somewhere in the last few months. So really, my previous opinions of it being pointless weren’t necessarily incorrect. It just didn’t hold any value for me. Now that the value of Twitter (in my own usage) is improving due to network effects, I use it more often.

I think the appeal of Twitter comes down to this: There is a much better signal-to-noise ratio at this point using Twitter versus Facebook. On Facebook I get updates about everything that everyone I have ever known (and befriended) has ever done! I don’t care about pictures of drunk cheerleaders who I was friends with in undergrad. But Facebook feeds them to me. I really should remove them at some point, but oh well, such is social networking.

For now, Twitter has a much more relevant set of messages. I’ve also noticed that people are much more likely to respond to me via Twitter, versus commenting on a Facebook status. Probably due to the noise/signal thing again. It’s easy for me to simply “unfollow” someone who is not providing me with relevant or funny information. Sadly, the relevance factor of Twitter is probably a temporary quality. Facebook used to have a low S/N ratio until everyone joined it. Twitter may face the same problem if it can grow like Facebook did (lol at scaling).

It’s interesting to look at all of this in the context of history. I used ujournal before I used Xanga before I used livejournal before I used MySpace (ick) before I used Facebook before I used Twitter before I used (fill in the blank)…