The Mystery of Twitter

I recently added some Innovation gurus to the list of people I follow in Twitter – Braden Kelly, Paul Sloane to name but two. Mostly they seem to specialise in suggesting things to read or watch that will awaken your thinking and help you to be more innovative. I then added CNN and the Radio 4 Today programme, as I really enjoy both programmes. And then I added some organisations in which I have a particular interest such as UNDP and We Can End Poverty. These additions are on top of the few ‘building blocks’ I started with – Stephen Fry, Alastair Campbell, my son and daughter and CIDA’s In Smart Company. I now have, mysteriously, 89 followers and I follow 52, apparently. The truth is, however, I just can’t keep up! And what’s worse – apologies if this sounds conceited – when I post something, as I did last night, even within my own small group of fellow Tweeters, it disappears so fast beneath the welter of other things, that you wonder if anyone had the chance to see it .

Now, I really love all this new technology – I think that generally I might be called an ‘early adopter’, finance permitting. I live in a family of highly savvy technology users, mostly PC based but with my daughter now making a breakaway bid for Apple (to my son’s horror and my envy!), so there is no opportunity not to be aware of latest happenings. I had a Facebook page very early on – and almost immediately closed it down again once I realised the embarrassing propensity for mixing professional and personal information – children tagging their holiday pictures of me which then automatically and without warning turned up on my site did not seem to be conducive to creating the sophisticated and polished image of myself that is my fantasy! I occasionally blog – although not nearly enough for it to be of any moment. I skype, I set up nings, I use Google docs, I even experimented (briefly) with Google Wave – so I really thought Twitter would be a whiz. But it’s not. I’m really puzzled by it.

When you hear that the Teheran almost-revolution, and the Tunisian and Egypt real revolutions, are hugely strengthened by the capacity to communicate via Twitter, I am mystified. I think it’s wonderful, I’m cheering on the sidelines, but I just don’t understand it. How do people know? If we had a revolution in the UK – oh, roll on the day! – I’d be left behind. I’d be one of those ‘silent majority’ who is silent through sheer bloody ignorance! Last night, I looked through the ‘new’ Twitter listings of what is ‘trending’ at the moment. (The English language is a marvellous thing – I thought ‘to tweet’ was great, but ‘ to trend’……….ah, there lies nirvana – even Stephen Fry wants to ‘trend’………..!) I thought and hoped that something to do with the current affairs in Egypt might figure. They had one item that seemed linked to Al Jazeerah but wasn’t Egypt-relevant and the rest were oddities like Jeepers Creepers and #scariestwordsever – none of which held the slightest appeal for me. So how do people know where to look?

And when? I go days without even thinking about Tweeting – usually for me, it’s playtime on Saturday morning rather than anything else – I don’t think I have the time to check constantly to see what’s going on – but at the moment, the truth is that the messages I see are just not interesting enough to keep me checking in! How do I get to see the interesting stuff – bearing in mind that I’m already drowning with the 52 people, all wonderful, that I follow now – how could I manage if I added to that?

It’s a puzzlement.