In the two years I’ve been using Twitter, I’ve primarily seen it as a micro-blogging service, another platform for publishing with some unique advantages that make it an important complementary tool to a blog.
But in past few months, I’ve discovered how valuable it also is for tuning into the voices of the people I’m most interested in.
David Carr wrote a Jan. 1, 2010 NY Times column titled Why Twitter Will Endure in which he describes this unique advantage of Twitter.
I’ve reread his column several times as I’ve come to experience what he’s described.
On Twitter, anyone may follow anyone, but there is very little expectation of reciprocity. By carefully curating the people you follow, Twitter becomes an always-on data stream from really bright people in their respective fields, whose tweets are often full of links to incredibly vital, timely information.
The service has obvious utility for a journalist, but no matter what business you are in, imagine knowing what the thought leaders in your industry were reading and considering. And beyond following specific individuals, Twitter hash tags allow you to go deep into interests and obsession
Nearly a year in, I’ve come to understand that the real value of the service is listening to a wired collective voice.
The expressive limits of a kind of narrative developed from text messages, with less space to digress or explain than this sentence, has significant upsides. The best people on Twitter communicate with economy and precision, with each element — links, hash tags and comments — freighted with meaning. Professional acquaintances whom I find insufferable on every other platform suddenly become interesting within the confines of Twitter.