All agog over Twitter

There’s apparently a “solution” out there that’s just right for me and it’s called Twitter. Sadly I’m having a hard time coming up with the right problem for it to solve. As of now, I’m thinking it involves me not having a novel way of showing off my dog Clyde.

Here’s a short description I found (dunno if it’s an official description but I like it), “Twitter is for staying in touch and keeping up with friends no matter where you are or what you are doing.” (Incidentally, found that while looking for a Mac app for dealing with Twitter.)

I don’t have a problem staying in touch and keeping up. I do plenty of IMing & IRCing & emailing & SMSing. Sometimes I even use the phone. For those more distant friends (for whatever definition of “distant” you prefer) there’re weblogs to read and Flickr photo streams to follow.

I do have problems with the second part of the quote: “no matter where you are or what you are doing.” Last time I heard something like that was when I was 10 and my Mom was reminding me to call home if I was going to be late. Since when does being online & available require real-time Intensive Care Unit-like availability? If you have to let me know you’re going to the bathroom then we’re getting too close. Let’s put some healthy distance back into the relationship.

It frustrates me that I can’t figure it out; many folks who I respect are off and running with it, seemingly have a grand time. What am I missing?

I think, for lack of a better term, this “context smearing” is something I’ll have to get used to. Perhaps one of the reasons Twitter seems so in your face is because I lack the means to actually make it useful. Every single operation involved in a “twittering” involves me actively detaching from whatever context I was in, starting up another tool (or picking from a number of different windows already open), attaching to another context, detaching again and then flipping back to the original context so I can finish whatever it was I was doing. This isn’t multi-tasking, it’s something more akin to meta-multi-tasking. And it is exhausting.

Twitter makes it easy to broadcast my presence across IM, email, the web and my phone. Regrettably it feels more like Twitter is broadcasting my already feeble attention span everywhere as well.

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