What’s so great about Twitter

twitter fail whaleA pretty good argument for Twitter by Steven Johnson in Time (via). People keep asking me this question, but I figured someone would come along and make the case. Still, a few thoughts:

  • The following aspect and the composing aspect are both equally important to what Twitter is all about, yet they deserve completely separate discussions.
  • On the following side, you have three distinct groups: Your friends, celebrities you admire, and Twitter stars — people you pay attention to just because they happen to be really good at making awesome 140-character collections of words (e.g., SeoulBrother!). There’s also assorted weirdness (the Mars rover?), and a zillion tools. And it’s all mixed together in chaotic order on a page custom-made just for you. (In fact, feature request: show me what other users’ home pages look like.)
  • On the writing side, Johnson observes that it really can be interesting to describe what you’re eating. The real challenge tho is: what is the awesomest thing you can say in 140 characters right now, which turns out to be an interesting question to try to answer.
  • Twitter can now be set to update your Facebook status, so you have no excuse from that perspective.
  • I personally do not get the buzz that the search stuff has been getting. It turns out that I care what people have been saying over the last few seconds or minutes about any particular thing approximately never. Maybe there were a few minutes after the plane hit the Hudson that Twitter live search was really shining, but as soon as the first bulletin went up on CNN.com (what, 15 minutes later?), Twitter is back to being useless in this particular respect.

For the time being, the only way to see what Twitter is about is to try it out for a few days. It’s pretty easy to find people to follow — just see who other people are following. The harder part maybe figuring out what to say. I guess it’s like blogging — the fear of the proverbial blank piece of paper. On Facebook there are a million pictures to comment on, cheesy quizzes to play with, and an endless stream of other stuff to react to. Twitter is all about you and what’s in your brain at that particular moment.

Cakehead Loves Evil

Still my favorite blog of the last few months: Cakehead Loves Evil. A few of the things found there this month (in case the ‘love will tear us apart’ masthead isn’t enough for you): Marilyn Minter’s oral fixation photography, insect sushi, the Bush Administration’s disaster coloring book, Battleship Island (amazing abandoned settlement featured on Life After People), 1600 Pandas, People living in a “space station” in the middle of Berlin, this insane set of images from a Pop magazine fashion shoot, 70s porn interiors, Amy Stewart’s garden of poisonous plants, the Janet Jackson Virgin Mary tattoo, and the burst whale.