Twitter: Plus and minus

Posted: September 17, 2010 in Uncategorized

I created a Twitter account last year when I came to UF, and then I just left it alone. So technically this is the first time I follow other people and pay attention to what they tweet.

My Twitter handle: @papatiao

I agree with Shepherd that Twitter is probably not the best place to grow democratic discourse and serious discussion. By looking at what and how people tweet and retweet, I found the 140-word limitation put Twitter into an embarrassing position, where inspiring thoughts may be delivered but cannot be fully explained. Of course, one can always use the reply function to ask for more information and probably extend the discussion, but generally speaking, this word limitation does to some extent impede people’s curiosity and impulse to have further deliberations and debates.  

When Shepherd decided to be critical about all of Twitter’s attributes, I do feel one thing positive about Twitter- it does encourage me to read more news on other news websites. It seems to me that many Twitters tend to tweet news with hyperlinks to a related article. In most cases, I found the article relevant and informative, feeding me with more details and insights about the news story. And very likely, after reading the hyperlinked article, I would dig around a little bit to find out more news that day. Twitter in this sense is like a start point of the following news exploration. And I will say, without it I would miss a couple of news stories I then found important or interesting in the last several days. But again, for people who visit various news websites several times a day as a daily routine, he or she may be just as, or even more informed without using Twitter.

At last, I have to agree with Shepherd that the idea of “end of geography” is probably too overstated. For me, Twitter itself is by no means an epitome of the “global village”. Even if it is, it is a global village which is distorted with unbalanced population demography and abnormal social agenda priority. Entertaining, personal, and sentimental messages are overwhelming. And most of the time, the contents are just meaningless because they are personal opinions without any logical context. The U.S. culture is absolutely the dominant one in Twitter; and it is pretty understandable since Twitter is rooted here and it is just not yet as global as Google. Furthermore, there are language barriers. I followed several Chinese twitters, including both individuals and news media, and they were all tweeting in Chinese. Of course, there are Chinese users who tweet in English, but these people tend to tweet more personal things than public concerns. And even if they do tweet public concerns, those are probably concerns among the U.S. publics, not Chinese. So, there is little chance for people who speak only native language to get serious foreign news and information from Twitter.

  1. joneelauriel says:

    I’m sure it’s not the fundamental purpose but I do believe Twitter can be used for the purpose of Democratic discourse and discussion. I mean the author gave an example of the Iran elections, an event we wouldn’t have known about had it not been for Twitter or even the example shown in class with the UK scandal. While I do agree the overwhelming use of Twitter is celebrity focused other content is readily available for those willing to engage in it. Also, I was not very fond of the 140 characters but it actually began to grow on me in that I felt it challenged users to be more concise in there writing and like the example you mentioned I like how CNN and other sites post a hyperlink leading you to there own website. I actually think it’s a very wise way to attract more attention and hits to your website. Especially since Twitter is gaining mass popularity and doesn’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon.

  2. Although now there are a lot of clones of Twitter in China/Chinese language, you might be interested in some of these Chinese tweeters:

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