One of the serious issues with the net is information overload. Between email groups, IRC chatter, IMs, text messages, FaceBook Status updates, blogs, rss feeds and twitter, it becomes, at a certain point, too much download from the sturdy tubes to your brain. With our ongoing need for constant immediate gratification, we open the floodgates to all input sources and, many times, overwhelm ourselves.
In the last week, I’ve been spammed by Twitter to the point that I had to stop following two people. This does not count Wil Weaton whom I adore, but he tweets too much and until I turned off ‘No @replies unless they’re to me!’ on my Twitter prefs, I couldn’t bear to follow. No, in the last 7 days, I’ve had to kick off WBEZ and nprpolitics for spamming the living daylights out of me.
WBEZ livetweeted the recent Chicago Town Hall, and in doing so, racked up
1200 120 tweets in 4 hours. I’m sure you can do the per minute math yourself, but the point was that while I was trying to tweet, read my friend’s tweets, and reply, I got spammed to the point that I could no longer follow anyone but WBEZ. And when I bitched, they said, in essence, ‘Use a better Twitter client’. My first reply was filled with swear words (I didn’t tweet it). My second reply was actually twittered and, I felt, polite and fair. WBEZ, the next day, looked back and saw they lost 12 followers. So they listened to me (and others) and made a WBEZLive account for livetweets.
Then, last night, nprpolitics livetweeted the Presidential Address, and pulled off 1000 tweets in an hour, before I turned them off. When I bitched, they said they did it all year and, I presume, no one complained. Guess what? I’m complaining! This is a complaint! They practically typed in every word the President said. Now, I like Obama and I was interested, but that was gratuitous. Have you people never heard of the radio!? Everyone was airing it! If you weren’t need a computer or a tv or a radio, then maybe, MAYBE, this was a good idea. If you happened to allow nprpolitics to tweet your phone. At which point you got 1000 SMS in an hour, which probably went over your monthly limit on text messages. Can you see the problem now?
Everyone’s answer was ‘Use a better client! Try TweetDeck to filter out what you don’t want to read!’ That’s not a solution, people. That’s you, saying you don’t give a damn about your followers. Twittering is not about spewing garbage into the air. It’s not a velcrometer where you throw stuff up and see what sticks. I used to say that’s what a blog was for, but these days, I think that’s what a private, never goes online, journal is for. Full stop. If you put stuff on the internet, it’s for public discussion and consumption. You can’t live in a vacuum and, because of how prevalent the data you put out is in other people’s lives, you can’t be ignorant of how much you put out there.
By LiveTweeting, nprpolitics and WBEZ each put 140000 characters of data out there. How much was fluff? That’s too much information and, I think, goes against the very tenet of Twitter.
When asked “Isn’t Twitter just too much information?“, Twitter replied with this:
No, in fact, Twitter solves information overload by changing expectations traditionally associated with online communication. At Twitter, we ask one question, “What are you doing?”
Either Twitter needs to address this shift in use to communication vs databarfing, or they need to address how they handle LiveTwittering. Limit people to 60 posts an hour, for example! That’s one a minute, and that’s pretty damn reasonable. Implement some flood-control. Otherwise it’s going to become impossible to keep track of tweets without these third-party tools, who are subject to breaking any time Twitter wants to change their API.
Sitting on the fence won’t help anyone.