So I've taken the plunge into the strange and magnificent world of Twitter. I resisted it for a while because I didn't see much value in it, but I'm starting to get what the hype is all about. One area where I will freely admit that I have a weakness is in keeping up with my e-mail. I subscribe to tons of e-mail lists, which is bad enough. But it's easy enough to mass delete posts from mailing lists. However, having a big web presence (at least for a ham) means that a lot of people e-mail you personally. Don't get me wrong, I love getting e-mails from people who stumble upon my writings on the web. The problem that I have is that I feel obligated to put as much time into replies as senders put into their e-mails. So when someone sends me a great e-mail that is 10 paragraphs, I feel like I have to reciprocate in kind if I'm able to. The problem is that it gets me into a rut where I feel like procrastinating because I can't sit down for 20 minutes in one stretch to craft a worthy reply. Not very cool, and not very fair to those who are expecting a response.
On the other hand, Twitter molds your messages into a forced austerity. I feel quite a bit more liberated in my ability to shoot off quick replies to Tweets from my ham buddies, knowing that I've taken care of business and have moved on. The back-and-forth dynamic is also very invigorating compared to e-mail. It's almost like a live chat, but just a tad bit slower.
Twitter is also quite good as a place to get raw information about breaking events. The recent Mumbai terror attacks proved that, much to my surprise. You have to filter this kind of raw data (well any kind of Internet data) through a skeptical eye, but it was amazing how much of the live Tweets from incident turned out to be essentially accurate.
Of course, there's always a downside to any trendy new technology, and Twitter is no exception. As you may have noticed throughout the ham blogosphere, folks are finding that it's hard to filter the good stuff out of the cruft once you start following large numbers of people on Twitter. Really, no one cares that I'm currently trimming my nose hair or that I'm in the 5th hour of my Top Chef viewing marathon. The challenge for me is to fight the information overload. Much like a raven with ADHD, I find information on the Internet to be like one shiny bauble after another. It's extremely easy for me to lose myself in the irresistable ebb and flow of the information currents. Seeing those Tweets pop up is quite destracting and hard to ignore. There's no doubt that you have to have self-discipline to be an effective Twitter user.
Now that I've taken my turn beating this quite-dead horse that 20 people in line in front of me have already taken their whacks at, I have my catharsis. Isn't that what the blogosphere echo chamber is all about? I'll do my best to actually publish some real content here on the blog, instead of more navel-gazing introspection. But what do you expect from an introvert anyway?