Every so often I run into someone who snorts dismissively at my use of Twitter (follow me here). Today is a perfect example of why I value the service as much as I do.
First, there was that crash landing of a US Airways jet this afternoon. It first came to my attention via Twitter, and I was able to watch the story develop. In retrospect that seems a little macabre, but the point is, a breaking news story came to my attention first via Twitter (and I heard about it before anyone else in my office did via traditional news alerts). Of course, knowing about that crash as it was happening wasn’t all that important in the long run — I could easily have read about it later.
But for another example, I was at my computer tonight when @MarsRovers sent out a tweet: “Live on Ustream, 10pm ET: Rover Principal investigator Steve Squyres will give a one hour talk on the rover”. I’m a big space fan so I jumped over to Ustream and was able to catch most of the talk (which was fabulous). Since it was live, had I not heard about it via the immediacy of Twitter, I would’ve missed out.
I’ll grant you that there’s a lot of noise on Twitter, but sifting through people you follow cleans that up a lot. I will “test-Follow” almost anyone. If they do nothing but send out updates about what they have for breakfast, then I drop them. Simple as that. It seems silly to me to discard a whole communications system just because some channels aren’t worth listening to. There’s some story about babies and bathwater that springs to mind…