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Why Engineers Don't Like Twitter 460

Posted by Soulskill
from the signal-to-noise dept.
PabloSandoval48 writes, "A recent EE Times survey of 285 engineers found that 85% don't use Twitter. More than half indicated that the statement 'I don't really care what you had for breakfast' best sums up their feelings about it." Reader mattnyc99 notes a related article in which the authors analyzed the content of tweets during a recent World Cup game, finding 76% of them to be useless. "Out of 1,000 tweets with the #worldcup hashtag during the game, only 16 percent were legitimate news and 7.6 percent were deemed 'legitimate conversation' — which leaves 6 percent spam, 24 percent self-promotion, about 17 percent re-tweets, and a whopping 29 percent of useless observation (like this). Is the mainstream media making too big a deal out of the avalanche of World Cup tweets, or is the world literally flooding the zone?"
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Why Engineers Don't Like Twitter

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  • Breakfast? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kelson (129150) * on Monday June 21, 2010 @05:07PM (#32645980) Homepage Journal

    If your reason for not liking Twitter is "I don't really care what you had for breakfast," the problem isn't Twitter - it's that you need to find some more interesting friends.

    Just like a telephone, its usefulness depends on who you have on the other end of the line.

    • Re:Breakfast? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 21, 2010 @05:11PM (#32646032)

      you need to find some more interesting friends

      These are engineers we're talking about. They're lucky they have friends at all.

      On a more serious note, what percentage of people are "interesting" enough to have worthwhile tweets?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I'm an engineer, and my reason for avoiding Twatter is twofold:

      1. SNR is way too low for me to bother with.
      2. http://calnewport.com/blog/2010/06/10/is-allowing-your-child-to-study-while-on-facebook-morally-equivalent-to-drinking-while-pregnant/ [calnewport.com]

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        1. SNR is way too low for me to bother with.
        2. long link snipped

        1. The SNR is entirely dependant on who you follow... so, if you get a lot of N, it means you're following the wrong S, which is your fault.

        2. You linked to an article asking about the MORAL integrity of using one of these sites while studying? I could post an article "Is allowing someone to post on slashdot morally equivalent to assisting with suicide?". It's such a Glenn Beck move.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          1. The SNR is entirely dependant on who you follow... so, if you get a lot of N, it means you're following the wrong S, which is your fault.

          There's very little signal that can be unambiguously packed into 140 characters.

          There's even less if you're trying to clarify something that was unambiguous. In the case of the World Cup, the only "S" would be "Team X scored", maybe "Player X Yellow/Red card", or "Game over, final score X:Y".

          Explaining why something was a bad call would often take more than 140 ch

    • Re:Breakfast? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Monday June 21, 2010 @05:19PM (#32646166) Homepage

      Yeah, I think the problem is that people on both sides, whether they love Twitter or hate it, are thinking that it's something more than it is. Its like a blog, but short. It's like an SMS message, but not necessarily directed at a particular person. It's like an IM status, but not tied to IM. It was a slightly interesting approach to dealing with Internet communication, but it's really not that unique or interesting. Some people use Twitter for inane information. Some people do the same thing with email. Some people post really inane blog entries. No big deal.

      But somehow the media has bought into Twitter as some kind of technological marvel. "ZOMG! People are tweeting about the World Cup! Let's put those tweets on our show, so we can pretend to be technologically savvy and relevant!"'

      • by weston (16146) <westonsd&canncentral,org> on Monday June 21, 2010 @05:48PM (#32646560) Homepage

        But somehow the media has bought into Twitter as some kind of technological marvel. "ZOMG! People are tweeting about the World Cup! Let's put those tweets on our show, so we can pretend to be technologically savvy and relevant!"'

        I think there's more too it than a desperate attempt to appear relevant -- the features of Twitter tend to fall in a certain sweet spot of interest for traditional broadcasters. For one thing, tweets are just about the right length for soundbite-driven short-cycle media. For another, it's really easy to search and in theory at least get a feel for zeitgeist by looking at trending topics in aggregate -- and profit-driven broadcast media is all about "eyeballs," so they're naturally interested in what people are (in theory) interested in.

      • by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Monday June 21, 2010 @06:23PM (#32646876) Homepage Journal

        "'I don't really care what you had for breakfast' "

        Let me go on.

        I don't give a rip what color shoes you're wearing - or even if you're wearing shoes today.

        I don't give a rat's ass that your dog escaped, and that you tore your panty hose while chasing him down.

        I never care whether you put make up on, let alone whether it matches your clothes.

        NO ONE cares how much you like your inlaws - not even your inlaws.

        Only six or eight people in the whole wide world cares that your special other made you feel good last night, and if you're not married, five of those six or eight wants to punch you in the face.

        I give less than a rat's ass which team is your favorite.

        I think your choice of automobile is a sign of latent homosexuality.

        I think your girlfreind/boyfreind is a dyke/flaming queer.

        Your BOSS uses your tweets as jokes to prove how stupid you are.

        Yo MAMA uses your tweets as jokes to prove how stupid you are!

        Why in hell do you think your dog was trying to escape, anyway? He's sick of your inane tweets!

        I'm sure that others can add to this list. And, no, I'm not looking for freinds, so don't add me to your twitter/facebook/myspace/MSN/etc/etc/etc account.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by JWSmythe (446288)

              The most useful thing I've found twitter to be good for is posting disinformation, or implausible scenarios.

              Want people to not know where you are? Post messages about the city/cities that you're visiting. How about announcing the alien/zombie invasion.

              Really, I know some people keep up with their twits. I only ever question "why?"

      • Re:Breakfast? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Hatta (162192) on Monday June 21, 2010 @06:43PM (#32647050) Journal

        Its like a blog, but short.

        So it's like a blog, but without the opportunity for in depth information.

        It's like an SMS message, but not necessarily directed at a particular person.

        So it's like an SMS, but with nothing I personally need to know.

        It's like an IM status, but not tied to IM.

        So it's like an IM, but... aw hell, IM sucks too.

      • by war4peace (1628283) on Monday June 21, 2010 @06:59PM (#32647194)
        You take one sparrow. It tweets and at times it might sound soothing, even if you don't understand what's it saying.
        Take two sparrows. They might sound even nicer if their tweets match to form music.
        Take a thousand sparrows. They make such a horrible sound, you'd wish not being there at all.
        Take a hundred thousand sparrows. You'll start to prefer vuvuzelas!
        ...And there are a few more iterations until you reach Twitter's real flock size.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      no, that is the problem with twitt, everyone who participates in it seems to think that every mundane detail of their little ant life must be documented on some glorious wall

      if nothing else to help them forget that they are an insignificant twitt telling the world about the eggs they had for breakfast, as if anyone cares

      • Re:Breakfast? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Monkeedude1212 (1560403) on Monday June 21, 2010 @05:34PM (#32646392) Journal

        Isn't that kind of like complaining about a penthouse suite because the people who are frequently in there are highly paid escorts?

        Or to put it in a car analogy, complaining about corvette because the driver doesn't know how to drive?

        You can't complain about Twitter because of the people who use it, especially when it gives you the architecture necessary to ignore what you want and listen to what you do want.

        • Re:Breakfast? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by bobcat7677 (561727) on Monday June 21, 2010 @06:03PM (#32646718) Homepage
          OK, lets get right down to the meat of the matter. What I'm not seeing so far in this thread is the root of the problem: the format of Twitter is such that not much of any real value can be published through it. The limit on how much a "tweet" can contain is simply too small. If the same limit was imposed on Slashdot stories nobody would be on here because none of us are stupid enough to click blind links and there wouldn't be enough space to put a decent description. This really sums up my first thought when I tried Twitter for 15 minutes "back in the day": "140 characters should be enough for everyone? What the *ell are we supposed to do with that?".
    • Twitter isn't just the status update part of Facebook. It's not a symmetric social media. You can follow someone who doesn't follow you, and vice versa. So you're not limited to your friends.

      Some people use that to follow celebrities, but you can use it to follow John Resig [twitter.com] or Guido Van Rossum [twitter.com]. Or if you feel weird following geek celebrities, someone like CS professor Phil Windley [twitter.com].

      Or if you still don't like Twitter, follow Linus [twitter.com], who feels the same way about Twitter that you do. ;)

    • by AnonymousClown (1788472) on Monday June 21, 2010 @05:27PM (#32646304)
      "I don't really care what you had for breakfast,.."

      Is really a quick way of saying that you don't want to bombarded by trivial details, irrelevant information or even relevant information. Just give me everything all at once and edit out the crap.

      I don't care how interesting someone may be, getting updates about every little thing would be annoying; regardless of how relevant it may be.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by symes (835608)

      If your reason for not liking Twitter is "I don't really care what you had for breakfast," the problem isn't Twitter - it's that you need to find some more interesting friends.

      Just like a telephone, its usefulness depends on who you have on the other end of the line.

      Precisely - I love twitter because I get immediate and brief headlines that can be easily followed up from various sources, including Science, Nature, NASA, the Economist, the BBC, and various other sources that are not otherwise succinctly aggregated in one place. Oh, and some hot chick who is off exploring the depths of the ocean in a big boat. This is where twitter, I think, works well.

      But this does, however, beg the very important question - what do people on Slashdot listen to for their tech tweets?

      • Re:Breakfast? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by IANAAC (692242) on Monday June 21, 2010 @05:47PM (#32646550)

        I get immediate and brief headlines that can be easily followed up from various sources, including Science, Nature, NASA, the Economist, the BBC, and various other sources that are not otherwise succinctly aggregated in one place.

        You mean like any bog-standard RSS reader?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by vux984 (928602)

      If your reason for not liking Twitter is "I don't really care what you had for breakfast," the problem isn't Twitter - it's that you need to find some more interesting friends.

      Exactly. Its like saying email is useless because "I dont really need a constant stream of Viagra offers".

      Except email has a lot of real uses, so one doesn't generally say that. Twitter, unlike email, doesn't. People have to really stretch and contort to find use cases for twitter that actually make it worth filtering out the crap to

  • So? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by thetoadwarrior (1268702) on Monday June 21, 2010 @05:08PM (#32645990) Homepage
    The same thing can pretty much be said about the whole internet to be fair.
    • Re:So? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Mashiki (184564) <mashiki@gmail. c o m> on Monday June 21, 2010 @05:16PM (#32646108) Homepage

      Except I can find redeeming content on various parts of other websites that provide actual information. I don't with twitter, or facebook. Both can die in a blaze of their own fiery doom for all I care.

      • Re:So? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Just Some Guy (3352) <kirk+slashdot@strauser.com> on Monday June 21, 2010 @05:31PM (#32646358) Homepage Journal

        Except I can find redeeming content on various parts of other websites that provide actual information. I don't with twitter, or facebook.

        Then your friends are boring. I guess I just hang out with more interesting people.

        I'm serious. I see something interesting or funny on Facebook or Twitter at least a few times a day. If you don't, then that's because of the people generating the content you're reading.

        • Re:So? (Score:4, Informative)

          by smellsofbikes (890263) on Monday June 21, 2010 @06:38PM (#32647002) Journal
          I have a group of friends that post on an old BBS-like system, LiveJournal, Facebook, and Twitter. Same people, posting to all four places. I put them in that order because that's the order that shows their relative value to me. On the old BBS they post long, interesting discussions of their lives, a dozen paragraphs about the troubles one woman is going through having her mom involuntarily committed to an institution because of Alzheimer's and her conflicts with her relatives over the process, another dozen paragraphs about another friend's decision-making process about buying a TIG welder and why he chose the one he did. On Facebook, those same two people post things like "hey baby pics!", and on twitter they post "I like cheese!"

          There isn't room on FB or Twitter to say stuff that has depth, and so many people are on them that you can't say anything controversial without offending someone. I haven't looked at FB for six months because my conservative religious aunt found it, and then me, and I have to deal with her for the rest of her life so I'm not going to be posting about my anarchist friends' orgy. I suppose I could spend the time to figure out how to build a filter that lets only a few people see it, or make another private FB account that prospective employers can't see, but why bother? I've got a bunch of friends on a BBS that nobody in the rest of the world will ever see and I can say anything I want there, with a 2 kilobyte post that lets me say *exactly* what I want to say.

          The medium is part of the message, unrelated to the quality of a person's friends.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by RobertB-DC (622190) *

      The same thing can pretty much be said about the whole internet to be fair.

      Can be? More like *has* been said, and *continues* to be said. It started with personal web pages -- my first Geocities page proclaimed "I love my wife and kids!", as though that were something unique in the world. But I also had a page of cool background wallpapers that I'd found, back when that was a novel concept... and a little outfit called Yahoo! found my "Wallpaper Heaven" page and suddenly it was getting hundreds of hits a

    • Re:So? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by InlawBiker (1124825) on Monday June 21, 2010 @05:37PM (#32646432)

      It's the Internet in microcosm. Engineers first used the Internet to pass technical information. Noise was kept to a minimum so work could get done. Then the engineers were surprised to find that the general public had an intense interest in fluff and chatter.

      So it's the same thing with Twitter. We mostly ignore it, unless we're using it for geek thing we find important.

  • simplistic view.... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by gandhi_2 (1108023) on Monday June 21, 2010 @05:09PM (#32645994) Homepage

    i know the most common use is that simplistic model: someone types something like a micro-blog entry....took fluffy for a walk. but it's more useful as a glue. using modules and apis, a small business (martial arts school, for example) can update their website, facebook fans, twitter followers, and SMS recipients with info (class tonight will be no-gi).

    sure, you could have coded a quick text-bounce on your own server, but twitter makes it pretty easy.

  • Twitter is useful? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by CrimsonAvenger (580665) on Monday June 21, 2010 @05:09PM (#32646002)

    "Out of 1,000 tweets with the #worldcup hashtag during the game, only 16 percent were legitimate news and 7.6 percent were deemed 'legitimate conversation' -- which leaves 6 percent spam, 24 percent self-promotion, about 17 percent re-tweets, and a whopping 29 percent of useless observation

    I suspect very strongly that if you were to ask 1000 random people, you'd get a very similar opinion of the content of /.

    In other words, "Surprise! People are different, and some aren't interested in the things you happen to be interested in. And that doesn't make them (or you) defective."

  • Tweets are uninformative, self-promoting and often useless? I could have told you that without a 'study'.
  • by pgmrdlm (1642279) on Monday June 21, 2010 @05:10PM (#32646020) Journal
    http://www.techiezine.com/execution-anounced-on-twitter/ [techiezine.com]

    But thats what I use twitter for, to follow the release of news stories.

  • by LoudMusic (199347) on Monday June 21, 2010 @05:10PM (#32646028)

    Most of our modern information delivery and socializing methods are actually pretty inventive and useful, until they are populated with the masses of morons that inhabit our Earth. And the one tweet the submitter linked to is a good example. It did actually have good information in it - Portugal scored a goal. But it was also filled with a bunch of personalized exclamation, which most people don't want to see.

    The great thing is, you're not forced to view that person's Twitter feed. The hard part is finding one you ARE interested in.

  • My Twitter timeline is the most relevant information stream I have come across in all my online life. It really depends on who you are following (and what it is that you're interested in in the first place). I have never come across a tweet where somebody told what they had for breakfast (although I can think of circumstances in which I would find that information highly relevant).
    • > It really depends on who you are following...

      That depends on you being a follower.

    • > (although I can think of circumstances in which I would find that information highly relevant).

      Agreed. Sometimes when people twitter about the massive crap they are taking, I think that the content of their breakfast would *definately* be relevant.
  • Social Self-outcasts (Score:2, Interesting)

    by blair1q (305137)

    If you want to go to a party, you have to accept being at a party.

    Twitter is fine, if you follow people you find interesting, and if you are interesting yourself.

    But if you just click on the Trending Topic links, then yes, you're going to discover that 90+% of the things people say from behind their cellphones is pointless blather. And that's the people, not the fake accounts that are using the TT to get undeserved attention. Those are half or more of any #1 topic.

    Once they get how it works, engineers sho

  • Only 76% Useless (Score:5, Interesting)

    by alvinrod (889928) on Monday June 21, 2010 @05:13PM (#32646068)
    That's actually a better signal to noise ratio than most forms of communication. Given that 90% of anything is crud [wikipedia.org], is is really surprising that Twitter isn't any different?
  • Engineers tend to think deeply with full focus, which has got to be the source of their troubles, and their gifts of design.

    "MultiTasking" to me is a wrenching experience, where I have to refocus my mind onto something new.
    It's not a pleasant experience.
  • Perhaps... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tool462 (677306) on Monday June 21, 2010 @05:13PM (#32646076)

    Perhaps MSM likes Twitter because it's the equivalent of 1,000 monkeys with 1,000 typewriters. There are so many people saying so many things, that they can likely find a quote that states whatever they want to state, but they then get to claim somebody else said it. Deniability is probably easier than fact checking.

  • Well of course (Score:4, Informative)

    by Monkeedude1212 (1560403) on Monday June 21, 2010 @05:14PM (#32646084) Journal

    If you look at any of the content on the internet, you're going to get similar results. Even here on Slashdot, the number of posts I've seen regarding to our favourite N word goes through the roof, though we've luckily got a content rating system to keep most of them in check.

    So you've got to objectively view Twitter in the same way you view any social media. For example, if a comment in slashdot is rated at -1, I'm usually not going to waste my time looking at it. Likewise, if there's hundreds of twitterers out there all tweeting, how do I know which ones to look at? Well, lucky for you, they've got their own ranking system. You can look for the people who are most followed, or you can search who you are interested in, and JUST follow them. It's surprisingly THAT easy.

    I mean, how many of these engineers care for Youtube comments and 30 seconds Respond videos uploaded to youtube?

    I could sit here all day and list things that engineers don't like about social sites, but that doesn't devalue the integrity of a social site.

    • I guess the difference for me is that I use the internet to learn more about something I need to know about. If I want to know about current events, I go to a news site. If I want updates on the World Cup, they're really easy to find. Twitter is more like waiting for the world to tell me something I didn't know I needed to know. It's like how my wife shops - go to the store and look around until you find what it is you didn't know you wanted to buy, then buy it. To each his own, but Twitter kind of ann

      • I think the main draw of twitter is that it pulls all the information to one central place.

        I can go to Slashdot for my tech news but it'll be anywhere from an hour to a couple days behind. If I really want to be up to date on things, I find the relevant feeds on Twitter, and follow them. This way I don't have to wait for some game developer to tweet something, some user to read it, that user to post a story about it, some moderator to approve it, and then it making the front page.

        So if I'm interested in 5 k

  • Old people? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Facegarden (967477)

    I'd also like to know the age of these "engineers".

    I'm a 25 year old engineer and I love twitter, because I like to know what my friends are doing.

    Most people that don't like twitter just don't understand it, or are the kind of people that don't accept tech to begin with. Twitter really isn't supposed to be for "normal" people. At least not until techy becomes the norm, which is happening.
    -taylor

    • by kindbud (90044) on Monday June 21, 2010 @05:36PM (#32646412) Homepage

      I'm a 25 year old engineer and I love twitter, because I like to know what my friends are doing.

      That 3rd-to-last word - not sure I know what it means. Not sure it it's important.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by GumphMaster (772693)

      I am 43 and a tertiary qualified digital systems engineer and astronomer. I was 'techy' and using the nascent Internet before you were a twinkle in someone's eye. This is not about not understanding the technology, it is about being at different places in life and having different needs of information. My needs are mainly professional. There's no useful amount of engineering or astronomy information that can be imparted in 140 characters, so that channel is of limited use to me professionally. I also s

  • More noise (Score:4, Interesting)

    by cjonslashdot (904508) on Monday June 21, 2010 @05:16PM (#32646112)
    The last thing I need is more noise. That's why I don't use twitter. Besides, 160 characters doesn't exactly lend itself to worthwhile discourse.
    • by Facegarden (967477) on Monday June 21, 2010 @05:18PM (#32646146)

      The last thing I need is more noise. That's why I don't use twitter. Besides, 160 characters doesn't exactly lend itself to worthwhile discourse.

      Haha, yet your comment is only 145 characters! Noise you say? Yeah, you have no need for that...
      -Taylor

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by tthomas48 (180798)

      I find it actually leads to MORE succinct discourse. Minimalism leading towards conciseness.

  • by Man On Pink Corner (1089867) on Monday June 21, 2010 @05:16PM (#32646116)

    Twitter is one those ideas that anyone could have thought up over a beer and implemented in a long weekend of hacking, and it could also have been done in 1995. Why didn't I get rich by doing just that? Because I'm apparently a fucking moron, who was too dumb to realize that apparently everybody else on the planet was dying for a one-to-many version of SMS with an artificial 140-character limitation.

    I suspect that's why many developers dislike Twitter. It makes everyone who hears about it feel stupid and out of touch.

  • by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Monday June 21, 2010 @05:18PM (#32646130)

    They don't give a shit about Lindsay Lohan SCRAM (although the technology is interesting). They don't really care who killed Michael Jackson. And they probably think that Jesse James was an outlaw from the 1800's.

    But they do seem to keep everything that civilization needs running . . .

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Thelasko (1196535)

      And they probably think that Jesse James was an outlaw from the 1800's.

      No, Jesse James used to build [wikipedia.org] stuff. [wikipedia.org] We know who he is.

      Who was that woman he was married to?

  • i feel i speak for the community when i say, I will refuse to support twitter until they
    support curl on atari. i may, may consider lynx in the future.

  • by Tom (822) on Monday June 21, 2010 @05:19PM (#32646170) Homepage Journal

    By now, we should be familiar with the issue at hand.

    It happened when people started making "personal webpages". Then came blogs. Then Facebook et al. Now Twitter.

    Basically, most of the world lives in the misguided assumption that at least a tiny fraction of the rest of the world is interested in them. Statistically speaking, that's not true. But we have this old tribal desire to "express ourselves", to communicate with the rest of the tribe.

    There's a few billion people on the Internet today. How many of them may even theoretically care about your dog, your house, your opinion of last nights local television program, or, in fact, you? A high mark of a thousand, for most of us. 10,000 at most for everyone who's not at least a minor celebrity. Even those 10k are less than 0.0005% of the Internet population. ppm is a better measure than percent here. It's a single-digit ppm. For the majority of us, not even 1 ppm.

    Or, in short, nobody(*) fucking cares. Not what the name of your dog is and not what you think about soccer.

    Twitter is Geocities, only shorter, and with even less content.

    (*) where "nobody" is equal, but not identical, to zero, for all practical purposes.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      You sound very bitter.

      Maybe you misunderstand why most people use facebook. It is not to glorify themselves to a global internet audience; if that were the case, facebook wouldn't have 'friends' or privacy settings. Facebook for global consumption would basically just be myspace or geocities. Which it clearly is not.

      My conversations on facebook are private among my friends. My pictures that- according to people like you- I apparently take only to make myself more interesting to the world at large are in fac

  • I'm going through the stages of Twitter: it's stupid, it's funny, it's useful, it's too much information. This Slashdot page was loaded via a Twitter link. The thing is, I do get useful nuggets of information from Twitter: breaking news, tech links, sports scores. And while most of the time I don't care where you are are what you're doing, once in awhile I have hooked up with folks having a beer who posted on Twitter.

    Until it gets easier to parse the feeds (sorry, lists just aren't working for me), I've had

  • An avid football fan calls their equally fanatic friend after their team scores the winning goal and yells, "GOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAL!" The friend yells the same thing back, everyone is excited, and both they shout about how much they love their country. After no more than fifteen seconds of conversation, they both hang up.

    Sure, some people might not be able to understand why these two people are so football crazy, but everyone can identify that something rich and emotional just happened. But when

  • by theheadlessrabbit (1022587) on Monday June 21, 2010 @05:22PM (#32646200) Homepage Journal

    what does it matter if only 16%, or 1.6%, or even 0.16% of all posts are any good?

    The power of aggregates, filters, and search engines is that it doesn't matter what the signal to noise ratio is, you can quite easily cut through it all and find more of what you want.

  • I used to think Twitter was useless for the same reason. (I am an engineer.) But the Green Movement put it to such good use during the Iranian election unrest that it makes me willing to put up with all of the insipid news stories (effectively retweets) about what stupid people have put on Twitter.
  • No one told me tweets are supposed to matter. Since when are they supposed to be important?

    I just like to tweet silly, fleeting thoughts.

  • by srussia (884021)
    Pareto strikes again!
  • What does it mean for people to literally flood the zone?

  • Self Limiting (Score:5, Interesting)

    by decipher_saint (72686) on Monday June 21, 2010 @05:27PM (#32646302) Homepage

    I like Twitter because it's an easy way for me and my developer friends to share transient tidbits like new tools, quick questions and interesting links.

    I don't follow people who use it as a journal and I don't really concern myself with those who follow me.

    I don't see why more IT people use it this way. It beats sending e-mail or trying to maintain contacts via multiple IM networks (some of which are blocked by various employers).

  • by fm6 (162816)

    Anybody who thinks that the World Cup (or any other sports event) has anything to do with "useful" needs to get out more. I'm not even a sports fan, and even I know that people who follow sports do so for entertainment, excitement, and camaraderie. In that context, a tweet that says "GOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAL #POR Portugal I LOVE MY COUNTRY, I LOVE MY TEAM &#9829; OMG, OMG OMG PORTUGAAAAAAAAAL" is as "useful" as anything else that comes out of game.

    If you want to assess the relevance of twittering

  • Why do people feel they need this trash? It is not even useful.
  • To be productive when doing design you need long periods of uninterrupted thought. Twitter by its nature is intrusive and interruptive.

    Yes

    I don’t need tweets popping up with trivial interruptions like ‘Walking the dog’ or ‘Baking cookies, and I’m out of vanilla extract!’ I have actual, real work to do.

    Yes.

    I think what turns engineers off is how pretentious Twitter seems.

    A Thousand Times Yes!

    Twitter makes the implicit assumption, by its very nature, that I care about all the little details of the lives of those that I chose to subscribe to. Frankly, I don't. Twitterers assume, for fuck only knows what reason, that everyone wants to know what it is they have to say, or what it is they are doing. Well guess what, engineers don't. Engineers spend their lives solving problems. We have to look at difficult situations and come up with fixes through limited resources.

  • Yeah it's a toy. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tthomas48 (180798) on Monday June 21, 2010 @05:33PM (#32646370) Homepage

    So let's see in the past week via Twitter I received notes live minutes from the Austin City Council, received crime and real estate stats for my zip code, registered my concerns about regional mobility with our Capital Metro, and notified my extended family of several cute things the kids said. That's just stuff off the top of my head.

    Twitter's a really useful tool. Much like the web, if all you're getting is what someone ate for breakfast, you're doing it wrong.

    At the same time, I'm completely ok with the majority engineers not "getting" social networking technologies. It makes it easier for me to find work.

  • Better than Average! (Score:3, Informative)

    by rueger (210566) on Monday June 21, 2010 @05:33PM (#32646378) Homepage
    Out of 1,000 tweets with the #worldcup hashtag during the game, only 16 percent were legitimate news

    In a related story, out of 1000 books in the local book-mega-store, only 16% were worth reading, and out of 1000 TV programs only 16% were worth watching.

    Frankly I would have thought that Sturgeon's Law [wikipedia.org] applied to Twitter as well.
  • Seriously? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Layth (1090489) on Monday June 21, 2010 @05:45PM (#32646522)

    Twitter is SOCIAL, Engineers are ANTI-SOCIAL, and you wonder why the two aren't a match made in heaven?
    Twitter lacks any sort of competitive appeal, sex appeal, or intellectual appeal.

    It is used to disseminate socially relevant knowledge, and humor.
    Sports. Celebrity Gossip. One-Liners.

    These are the cornerstones of twitter.
    Having said that, if you want the truly great tweets, you need a reliable third party to sift through the junk and gather them for you.

    Unfortunately this process has become increasingly inefficient with the demise of Conan's Late Night Twitter Tracker.

  • hmmm (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Hognoxious (631665) on Monday June 21, 2010 @05:48PM (#32646564) Homepage Journal

    Apparently subsistence farmers and nomadic goat herders like it even less.

  • by nilbog (732352) on Monday June 21, 2010 @05:59PM (#32646680) Homepage Journal

    You could make the same arguments about the printing press, the internet, or speech in general. With any medium open to everyone you're going to have 10-20% quality stuff and 80-90% garbage. That doesn't change the fact that Twitter has given a face to faceless corporations, given us insight into the mind of geniuses, and even helped fuel a revolution in Iran.

    Sifting through the cruft might be the next big challenge for twitter, but let's not throw it away because there is so much noise on there. That's like throwing away speech because it could be used to tell you about how I'm taking a dump.

  • by macemoneta (154740) on Monday June 21, 2010 @06:06PM (#32646748) Homepage

    But after observing it for a while, I've come to some conclusions as well.

    Watching an individual tweeting is like watching a neuron firing; it doesn't appear to be doing anything useful. Stand back a little, and you can see that neurons (or those that tweet) are parts of functional groups. Step back further and you have a conscious brain.

    This is the way I started to look at Twitter, and the analogy seems to work. The first place you find out about major events now? Twitter. First some tweets ("Hey, did anyone near xxx feel something?"). Then comes the higher level analysis ("Did the paint factory explode? No, it was an earthquake!"). Then comes the sensory input (twipics, twitvids). Then the emotional response ("OMG, so many people injured!").

    If you look at Twitter this way, it's almost like looking into the hive-mind. It's very interesting to observe, whether you participate or not. There are multiple search and aggregation engines, though they can lag realtime significantly during major events. It's better to have 'probes' (follows) into various areas of interest.

  • by ferret4 (459105) on Monday June 21, 2010 @08:06PM (#32647796)

    I find twitter unusable - seemingly every account I'm interested in reading - say for service announcements from my hosting provider - is filled with replies to other users, conversations I'm not a part of. Every single line is

    @ someuser - Some text totally out of context
    @ someuser - Some text totally out of context
    @ someuser - Some text totally out of context

    It's like being in a room with someone whose supposed to be making an announcement but are actually on their mobile phone - not interesting and terribly annoying.
    Maybe I'm missing some option to turn that irrelevant waste off, but they've already lost me because of it.

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