Text Patterns - by Alan Jacobs

Monday, July 18, 2011

a lesson learned

One interesting thing I’ve learned during this visit to England is that my pleasure in using Twitter is directly proportional to the number of people who are on it when I am. My unscientific read of my Twitter feed is that more tweets arrive in the morning (U. S. Eastern and Central time) than any other, followed by evening and then late afternoon. But since I’m in England, I’m asleep when those morning evening tweets come in; and then when the afternoon morning ones arrive I’m teaching or studying or leading a tour somewhere.

Now, it’s true that I’m now in the same time-frame as my European tweeps; but there aren't as many of them, and some of them are late-to-rise and late-to-bed and therefore keep schedules that aren't that different than East Cost Americans.

One more factor: this whole summer I’ve been on the computer less often than usual and more irregularly.

The result of all this temporal dislocation is that when I’m online, not much is happening in my little corner of the Twitterverse — and, it turns out, browsing through tweets that are ten or twelve hours old isn't all that interesting. I look with envy at conversations that sprang up while I was away: while I could join in belatedly, that usually feels pointless. (Imagine remembering a funny joke the day after a dinner party with friends and emailing it to them.)

So it turns out that, for me anyway, much of the value of Twitter comes from actually being in the flow of it. This is perhaps why I like separating my Twitter feed from my RSS feeds: a few months ago I experimented with trying to get everything into Twitter and setting RSS aside, but I didn't like it. Whatever turns up in my RSS feed I can read later, can read whenever; but with Twitter, well, you just had to be there.

4 comments:

  • Don't you have your time zones reversed here?

    When its 8AM Eastern Time its 1PM for you in England.

  • I go back and forth over separating RSS and Twitter. Right now I push everything through Twitter, which I like because of what you said, it makes me engage because it feels like everything is going on in one place. But I always have a nagging feeling that I've missed something if I can't catch up (what I don't know). I don't like how RSS piles up when you are away though, whereas Twitter just rolls on by. It's nice to be able to turn it off for a while and not have that guilt of unread items waiting for me when I come back.

  • Thanks, Kevin! Fixed.

  • If I'm away from Twitter for 5 minutes I miss it, less so after an hour, much less so after a day, and not at all after a week.

    Which is why I call people I know from the internet iFriends...

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