Twitter answers

Because danah asked, I’m answering:

First, the practical question. Can i quote you?

[X ] Yes, and you *must* use my real name.
1. Why do you use Twitter? What do you like/dislike about it?
I use Twitter to participate in meta conversations that don’t require an active presence or participation. It’s a bit like an experience I had in undergraduate school. There was a stall in the first floor women’s restroom a classroom building on campus where women would have these rather elaborate conversations through graffiti. Most of it was anonymous, but I decided to break down the fourth wall once to try to meet some of the women in hopes of fostering friendships. The group didn’t last long, and after about a year or so, interest and participation in the group conversation began to wane. Twitter feels a bit like the spirit of that original conversation. I can walk in, participate when I feel like it, and walk away from it knowing that the conversation will be still be there when I can devote attention to it.
2. Who do you think is reading your Tweets? Is this the audience you want? Why/why not? Tell me anything you think of relating to the audience for your Tweets.
Trusted online acquaintances, people I’ve actually met in meatspace, and a couple of people who I don’t know well, but trust because of their association with acquaintances. I’m also following John Edwards and Barack Obama, but I think their tweets are mostly unidirectional.
3. How do you read others’ Tweets? Do you read all of them? Who do you read/not read and why? Do you know them all?
I read them through the web interface. I found the IMs too invasive, and because I’m in Canada and text messaging plans here are ridiculously expensive, I chose not to use the text messaging component. I do read them all, but usually not in one go. I’ll page back through during a break, or from home, just to make sure I haven’t missed any direct questions or interesting bits of information flotsam that have floated through.
4. What content do you think is appropriate for a Tweet? What is inappropriate? Have you ever found yourself wanting to Tweet and then deciding against it? Why?
I think just about anything is fair game in a tweet, because the people who are reading me are primarily people I trust. Still, because I mostly use the service from work, and because I know our network is monitored, I try to keep the work-related rants to a minimum. Would I ever have an argument with someone over Twitter? Probably not.
5. Are your Tweets public? Why/why not? How do you feel about people you don’t know coming across them? What about people you do know?
They started out as public, but after a conversation with a couple of friends, I decided to take them private again. I’ve lived a fairly transparent life on the web since 1999, but in the last few years, I’ve been reeling it in a bit. A friend once told me “Not everything needs air.” I keep that in mind when I refuse to add people who have requested access to my private tweets.
6. What do i need to know about why Twitter is/is not working for you or your friends?
One friend left because she found that she got all the updates she needed through Facebook and instant messaging. I think she might’ve been using it with IMs turned on, and as a librarian who has to work at a reference desk from time to time, I can see how that might be intrusive.
Why is it working? It’s made it possible for me to reach out to people I’ve long admired and followed through their blogs. I’m an introvert, and twitter works to facilitate social interaction in a way that direct IMs just haven’t worked for me, not to mention face to face interaction. Now that I have a close cadre of “friends” who I follow (and who follow me) through twitter, the world doesn’t seem like such a big, bad scary place.