Twitter Fun

31 05 2009

There are endless blogs and articles regarding Twitter; 10 or 20 ways it will benefit business, 10 or 50 ways it will benefit personal living, 10 or 20 rules about how to behave on Twitter, the best top 10 people to follow, etc. It is the latest fad alongside giving away free prom dresses on tv talk shows; publicly losing extraordinary amounts of weight while having to display that which causes the greatest humiliation ie the weight itself; running around the globe in bizarre contests including eating bugs and other members of the phylum “uck” while berating official figures who dare to eat a seal heart; and discussing how best to “ding dong ditch Ted Turner’s house” (Ok that one is somewhat passé now – probably best replaced by how to keep certain celebrities on board the Twitter ship despite its sailing off to the land of mainstream, celluloid media). Never having been shy about jumping aboard the trend band wagon, I would like to make a contribution to the Twitter mania myself.

Yes, I am a Twitaddict. I tweet in my dreams, ever mindful of the 140 character limitation. My dreams, needless to say, have become somewhat truncated, staccato – a vast improvement on the muck they were before (perhaps someone should write an article on 10 Ways Twitter Will Improve Your Dream Life). I wake in the morning, sleep still refusing full liberty to my eye lids, coffee in shaky hand, and I turn to my new lover – the computer. I welcome the thrall I know is waiting by silently repeating my new Serenity Prayer;

God give me the serenity to accept the things I
cannot tweet,
The courage to change the things I can (ie. thru bit.ly)
And the wisdom to hashtag the difference.

Then, having thoroughly cursed the need to retype my password a zillion times because my foggy brain and even foggier fingers can’t get it together, the Twitterverse unfolds its mysteries to me like some far off elliptical universe, the Shangri-la, the road to the future. And the first tweet I see is   “U’r  an asshole.”  Some tweep creep I don’t even know, have never communicated with and will now, in all likelihood, follow just for fun. Oh yes, the perk I need that the consumption of caffeine doesn’t always accomplish. I roll up my sleeves, stretch my twitter fingers and jump in with both feet.

This is when frustration sets in. This is when I discover a huge black hole in the myriad articles and blogs so far written on the great Twitter phenomenon. Many analysts and critics sing the praises of the search feature of Twitter and yet I find it one of the more irritating facets of the program. One can search hashtags, and yet the results are meaningless unless you know what the hashtag means – just more nonsense with the hashtag itself highlighted. This is particularly confusing for those new to Twitter – “newbies” as we so judgmentally call them. How many times has a tweet posed such questions as “What is #tcot or even #FollowFriday? If, in your search for understanding, you turn to Google the mystery only deepens because 9 times out of 10 the answer simply directs you to the very Twitter search that has left you in a quandary in the first place. Would it be technically insurmountable to include in the Twitter search a page that could clarify many of these puzzles? It would go a long way to explaining things to “newbies” and thus improve new user retention.

This leads me to the next bone I am itching to pick on my trek to joining the host of Twitter commentators. The search tools for one’s own Twitter profile are anaemic at best and non-existent at worst. Should you find yourself in a position where you need to reference a tweet you made or an @reply you received at some time in the not so distant past, you are relegated to traipsing through pages and pages of tweets or @references manually. A further irritant to this process is the need to scroll down to the bottom of each page before you can move onto the next, so that if you didn’t have carpal tunnel syndrome before you are well on your way to being a candidate for it now. Why one can’t search by name or date eludes me completely. Most simple computer programs have this facility – why can’t this new tsunami of social media?

The lack of finely tuned search capabilities becomes even more evident when one attempts to filter through “followers” or “following”. It becomes glaringly apparent the first time you want to DM someone from your followers. Unless you have DM’d them before they don’t show up in your drop-down list so you are relegated, again, to scrolling through your list (which isn’t sorted alphabetically) having to go to the bottom of each page before being able to click on “Next”. Clearly, if you know the exact username of the person that you want to message you can just go to their profile and choose send message to avoid scrolling through the bog of names but if that isn’t the case it becomes an excruciatingly tedious task. In addition to these woes, is the impossible chore of determining who you have followed and when as well as who has followed you and when. Important if you believe that you should unfollow those who don’t follow you back, which happens to be the case for the multitudes. You want to give someone enough time to follow back. God knows how many people I have unfollowed in a huff having unintentionally only given them 12 hours to follow back.

The search capabilities of Twitter would be greatly enhanced if we could do a search by date or name in our own Profiles. If DM’s or your own tweets were searchable by date or name how much time would be saved never mind stress levels and mouses (I have been known to bash a mouse when severely frustrated). Were Favourites or Followers searchable by name or date we would be a very happy Twitamily. (By the way I, too, have grown weary of all of these Twit words, so please don’t send me some article berating the overuse of them).

In any case, all of this critiquing has taken me away for far too long from scrolling through my tweeps, catching up on the latest twossip and, generally, whispering tweet nothings to my Twitter world.

P.S. As soon as I tried to post this blog on Twitter I was greeted by the Fail Whale, but that’s a topic well covered by everyone else.

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