Twitter for Dummies

Rule 1: Everything must be 140 characters or less. A character is a letter, number or space.

Rule 2: No mundane comments on where you are; e.g., “I’m drinking coffee at a Coffee Bean.”

Rule 3: No cutesy observations that only you will understand, e.g., “Well, that was a sticky wicket, wasn’t it?”

Rule 4: Don’t post 47 times a day; people will get irritated and tune out.

Rule 5: Post more than once a day; otherwise you’ll get lost in the shuffle.

Rule 6: Twitter is actually kind of stupid.

Rule 7: What kind of society are we turning into, anyway, when everyone has to know what everyone else is thinking and where they are at every possible moment?

Rule 8: Seriously, you’re reading a primer on how to use Twitter? Don’t you have anything better to do?

Rule 9: How the hell does Twitter monetize itself? Is this just some weird Internet bubble 2.0 thing?

Rule 10: Do they sell t-shirts with “Twitter” on them? Or is that too real-world? Can you buy a virtual t-shirt with that? Does it cost real money?

Rule 11: Soon, Twitter will feel wordy. The next trend will be one-word tweets. Then one letter. People won’t have patience for anything else.

Rule 12: See?

Rule 13: !

Rule 14: Anyone read any good books lately?

6 responses to “Twitter for Dummies”

  1. Started a great book last night, On Farting: Language and Laughter in the Middle Ages. Don’t know much about Twitter though I briefly was using it — I could not figure out what the point of it was.

  2. Josh K-sky says:

    With the advantage of no cell reception or internet connection, I was able to plow through 100 pages of Francisco Goldman’s The Ordinary Seaman. It’s excellent. Goldman also wrote The Art of Political Murder: Who Killed the Bishop? about the assassination of a human rights advocatin’ priest in Guatemala on the eve of the release of a study implicating the government in genocidal murder.

  3. Vincent says:

    I just found this blog via Twitter, so maybe I’m not your target audience. (The target of your humor, rather.) But a few observations on your observations. First, you seem to use Twitter in a very specific way, i.e., you aim to read everything you subscribe to, and hence your worry about someone getting lost in the shuffle or having to ignore annoying threads. Many Twitter users have other strategies for managing their feeds. I tend to think of my Twitter subscriptions as creating an ambient field I can tune in or not depending on how busy or bored I am. I certainly don’t read everything I subscribe to.

    If I were writing your rules I would have added these: 1. Don’t expect everyone you subscribe to to read everything you tweet. The fantasy of an audience is part of the fun, but chances are you reach significantly fewer people with any one Tweet than the total number who subscribe to your feed. Especially the porn bot followers. 2. Don’t think of Twitter as akin to a Facebook status update. The nice thing about Twitter is that you can subscribe to anyone’s feed, so find your favorite writers, artists, actors, etc., and follow them. You’ll never friend them on Facebook, so this is already something FB can’t do. Some of them are quite funny or intelligent. Writers especially seem to use Twitter for posting their thoughts about pieces in progress, which gives you a nice behind-the-scenes feel. 3. If you expect to grow a network of new contacts and gain exposure via Twitter (which is not something every user wants, but I see that you recently added a Twitter account to your blog), you have to follow lots of feeds. Every follow you put out is an invitation for that person to follow you, so think of your ideal audience and then try to assemble it. Many of those invitations will fall flat, but you can build a good following of people you don’t know in person over time.

    Other random comments: Your number 2 seems aimed at Foursquare users, whose Foursquare accounts automatically feed locations via Twitter. I don’t understand the appeal of Foursquare and agree with you that they make for boring tweets, but maybe that’s just me. Can someone explain the appeal of Foursquare? Also, I disagree with your number 3, sort of. I like tweets I don’t fully understand. They make for mystery and good characterization. And I only partly agree with your #4. I don’t care if someone wants to tweet a whole World Cup game: I may or may not be interested in their witty banter. But If I’m not interested I’ll just tune it out. I like some TV tweeters but skip their commentary on shows I don’t watch. And I only resent people who tweet a lot if they do it right in a row. 10 tweets in a row from someone is a drag. Scatter them through the day! Again, the 10 in a row are probably autopilot tweets being dumped from a blog or a print publication like the Times.

    Which reminds me: I wanted to say that I think of Tweets like headlines. You can choose to click through and read the article or not. Twitter works quite well for newspapers for this reason, and it’s even caused me to let go of print newspapers finally.

    Well, that was longer than your original post, and not nearly as funny. As for summer reading, I’m hoping to read Jeffrey Rotter’s The Unknown Knowns but haven’t actually picked it up. I do follow him on Twitter, though.

  4. ben w says:

    Rule 3: No cutesy observations that only you will understand, e.g., “Well, that was a sticky wicket, wasn’t it?”


  5. Ivy says:

    No one has yet managed to convince me of the need to be on Facebook yet, let alone Twitter. Despite the fact that I live and work alone. (Although I have, horrifyingly, been working in an office some days a week for the past few weeks. Spooky.)

  6. Apropos commentary from Scott McLemee.