Public Discourse, Public Persona

Marjorie Romeyn-Sanabria counters the eulogy for Twitterwhich I responded to here, with thoughts about what makes Twitter valuable:

Twitter is a portal into public discourse, a tool that allows a glimpse into groupthink, and provides a platform to build your own public persona.

I have used the hell out of it for this specific purpose. When I began as a skepto-atheist blogger in earnest in 2008, still early for Twitter, I made a point of arbitrarily following almost anyone who had “atheist” in their profile bio, just to get the attention of a potential audience of net-savvy nonbelievers. I actually think this really helped, and I don’t think it’s something that you could pull off today, now that there’s a critical mass of both early adopters and normals using the service.

Today, I intentionally use it not just to vent or trade quips with friends, but to serve as a sort of marketing service for “Paul,” a kind of regularly-updated reminder that, hey, there’s this witty guy who’s always anxious and worried who writes pretty well. Maybe you will find that fact useful or monetarily valuable.

But I don’t know if that kind of usage, beyond that of celebrities, is what Twitter-corporate needs to stay solvent and relevant. It may, because while I’m a nobody, somebodies still do this all the time, and that has to matter.

For one’s own use of Twitter, counteracting my lament about dudgeon and finger-wagging, she recommends this:

In order to maintain the “good neighbors” aspect of Twitter, users may have to put up some good fences to protect their conversations from the wake of larger-scale shouting matches.

Right, which is why more often you see folks in the know recommending you start pruning your follows. TechRepublic’s Jason Hiner has a whole piece about this, where he even says he emails folks he unfollows to tell them there’s no hard feelings. I wouldn’t necesarily go that far, but I am already becoming more merciless about who I follow on social media. But there are still many who I’d rather kick out of my streams, but fear that fact being noticed. God forbid someone disapprove of something I do!

Twitter lists are key for this kind of curation, if you use the service as heavily as I do. There’s the big stream of everybody I follow, and then I have lists based on who I just don’t want to miss out on, or by topic/beat (like tech or politics). The problem is that, as far as I’ve seen, the only really good way to get everything I want out of lists and notifications is Tweetdeck, which, while great on the desktop, works only as a janky web app on the iPad, and not at all on iPhone. Time was I would tweet at least once a day at @Twitter to please, please make a native Tweetdeck client for iOS. I have thus far been ignored (see: me being a nobody).

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