Thursday, January 12, 2012

Twittered to Distraction

For the last month or two, I decided to try to see if Twittering on technology topics would be useful. The result of my test is that I think Twitter can drive you to distraction and not add much to the conversation.  Let me explain my observations a little more carefully.

I Tweet under the handle @techalmanac1.  I decided that in addition to my sporadic blogs, I would look at what was going on the Twitter-sphere and pass on the best and most relevant posts on technology. I was following a host of technology sites including Scientific American, the Smithsonian, Science aggregators, Fast Company, Fortune, Forbes, and many others. I was less interested in the "what I am doing right now" sort of Tweet compared to links to news articles and reports. Over the month or two I was doing this, I found it took me hours each day to scan even the 100+ feeds I was following and review them for distribution. My reward? I grew my Followers from under ten to maybe 50 or so.  I appreciated the followership. In the positive column, I found that I was reading more about current and future technology and was more aware of what was the buzz of the day.  The negative was that there was very little being written that appeared on Twitter about the history of technology - my primary interest.

I'm calling a halt to the experiment. If I see something particularly relevant, I will pass it on but I would rather spend my time developing my own ideas than re-Tweeting someone else's work.  So if you are one of my 50 or so followers, thanks for following. I hope that by focusing on my own ideas, I will add more value to the conversation. I will still put items up from time to time but I won't be as focused on it as I have been in the last couple of months.

This experiment leads me to ponder how much time is used up in general with little to show for it.  The constant scanning of Twitter, Facebook, Google +, let alone email, has lead to a huge loss of human productivity. I know there are those who would argue that the connectivity leads to innovation. Sometimes, it probably does. Most of the time, it is lost energy. I also realize that this sounds like the kind of argument someone from my generation, i.e., older, makes about the way young people live their lives - lives connected via their iPhones and computers to their friends and working colleagues.  I understand that I don't understand, but I will still argue for less distraction and fragmentation and for more focus and integration. It is impossible for anyone to keep up with the ever-growing amount of data out there on the web.  It seems to me that figuring out what you are passionate about and pursuing it with as much energy as you can muster is still the formula for making the world a better place.

So here's to focus! May it re-emerge into the mainstream of our daily lives.

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