The Twitter Timesink

Glenn asked: “What is it about Twitter that makes it more of a time sink than Facebook?”

I consider a time sink something where I invest a high value of time for boring and poor value.

My contacts mostly duplicate in Twitter what they provide in Facebook. The time I spend reading Twitter posts I’ve already read in Facebook is a waste of my time. My Twitter contacts respond about a 1/5th as much as Facebook users (it used to be higher in Twitter). So I get more out of Facebook.

Twitter Replies suck. The Replies system makes it look like my contacts reply much more to me than others which I find highly unlikely. More likely the Replies implementation stifles conversation by requiring either everyone to be public or to allow all the participants to follow each other for there to be one conversation. Instead its many different (sometimes hidden) duplicate conversations. Facebook comments are attached to the status update so following a conversation is significantly easier.

Twitter Apps suck. Last Friday, I looked at Facebook Connect for AIR. My complaint about it was my interactions with Facebook would be as limited as Twitter. The promise of Twitter apps is to do more than the Twitter.com web UI provides. Many just provide easier ways to do the same thing: see your Twitter timeline. Others let you see quantification of your usage. Facebook apps by contrast provide access to content not within Facebook, so more of the web because part of my Facebook access so I can actually do more.

Except Socialthing and Tweetdeck. They are exemplary implementations of Twitter Apps. They extend the functionality of just Twitter by itself and are primary reasons I kept at it for so long. Socialthing unofficially died a while ago and official stoppage of support was announced last week while I wasn’t using it. Tweetdeck probably will stick around for a while.

Twitter lacks granular privacy. In Twitter, either you are private or public or ban specific users. I’m torn between public and not. So I opted for private with sneezypb where I mostly subscribe to friends. My other account, ezrasf, was where I subscribed to Blackboard community members, educational technologists, etc. Facebook could improve some in privacy as well. Compared to Twitter, Facebook makes a great attempt at granular privacy. Plurk, another microblogging / status update site, represents the privacy  Holy Grail for me. It allows for making specific posts public, private, available to groups, or individuals.

Week Two Almost No Twitter

Since I cut back on Twitter, my sneezypb account’s password was changed to something completely random and unknown to me. Tweetdeck was uninstalled. Most of the few on my subscription list I still need to follow now reside in my RSS reader for now.

Productive? Check.

  • We tell real stories instead of how talk about how Twitter is good/bad/indifferent.
  • I’ve posted 11 times to this blog in the last 16 days vs 22 in the 120 days before the change.
  • Work days seem significantly shorter. I only still have to transition between meetings notices, IM notifications, people dropping by my cube to understand my emails, phone calls, conversations over the cube walls, people lost in the cube farm, and YouTube watchers.
  • I’m only having to read status updates once.

Twitter was obviously way too much of a time sink.

Heather asked about my absense from Twitter. Changing the password broke Ping.fm from updating my Twitter status. I’d just need to give Ping.fm the password to keep those on Twitter in the loop. I’m starting to think I’d rather those few left on Twitter just to sign up on Facebook rather than give up on the cold turkey.

I’m such a bad friend.