Do I read all Twitters?

Phil Crissman asks about my Twitter behavior: “does he really know them all? What does that feed look like? Is there more or less meaningful information in a twitter list that large?”

I should do a video of my Twitter behavior, but I have more than 6,000 people I’m following. Which is slightly more than the number of people who are following me.

So, first of all, I don’t use Twitter on SMS. I don’t even use it on the Web most of the time anymore. Instead I use Twitterrific on my MacBookPro. It sits off to the side while I’m working and presents new Twitter messages (we call them “Tweets”). It looks like an instant messaging client and changes every few seconds.

About once a minute, sometimes more, it gothers a set of new messages and brings them to me. 24 hours a day, too. Lots of new messages. 12 new messages every minute or two. I scan these things really fast looking for trends. News. And friends. I’ve started building a personal relationship with many of the people on my screen. Jim Long is there right now, for instance. He’s a camera guy at NBC. I’ve never met him, but I feel like I know him. Hes hardly alone.

You can see what posts I am seeing here. Phil says he was subscribing to all the people I was following just to see what it looked like. You don’t need to do that. In any Twitter account you can view “with_friends” to see what they are seeing on their screens or phones or apps like Twitterrific.

Some things I’ve learned so far:

1. News breaks first in Twitter, then moves other places. Yesterday Jim Long was reading us the wire reports of that shooting. That warned us that news was happening elsewhere.
2. Lots of people post links to their blog posts. It’s become the best place I know of to find new ideas from new people (you can add yourself to my list just by following me on Twitter).
3. It’s really easy to pick out “my real friends.” I just saw Scott Beale leave a message. It’s easy for me to get more value out of his messages than someone I’ve never met. The human eye’s ability to view patterns is really awesome.
4a. I don’t need to read every message. I can see every message sent to me specifically if you include “@scobleizer” in your message (I look at replies directly to me every morning).
4b. I am starting to use the new “track” feature to see everyone’s messages that mention a specific topic.
5. It’s interesting ot get up at a weird time of night and see who is on. Usually while I’m sleeping Europe and Asia are going full tilt. Overnight the news definitely changes. It often is MORE interesting because it’s different than the stuff you know.
6. Lots of blog geeks don’t sleep until late. I’ve noticed that I often see messages from some of the best bloggers at 2 a.m. or 3 a.m. — this morning I was online at 3:30 a.m. cause Milan woke us up. Jeff Pulver and Dave Winer, both on the East Coast, woke up and started saying hi to everyone.

Anyway, Twitter, to me, is a chat room. Definitely interesting to follow but I wouldn’t recommend it to everyone. When it’s on I definitely get less work done. As Linda Stone says it defuses attention. Pulls your attention away from what you’re supposed to work on.

Oh, to answer the question directly: no, I don’t read all Twitters. I only read them when I’m sitting on my computer and online, which is probably only about 10% of the Twitters that the people I’m following write. That is, unless they directly mention me in them, then that percentage goes up to 100%.

44 thoughts on “Do I read all Twitters?

  1. Definitely agree with Scott Monty up there – every time I’m away from my computer, I feel like I’m missing stuff on Twitter and one of the first things I do when I get back is go through the archive.

    I’m not sure the “with_friends” feature is working properly for me… I just see the normal list of followers – am I supposed to see something different?

  2. Definitely agree with Scott Monty up there – every time I’m away from my computer, I feel like I’m missing stuff on Twitter and one of the first things I do when I get back is go through the archive.

    I’m not sure the “with_friends” feature is working properly for me… I just see the normal list of followers – am I supposed to see something different?

  3. Heh… I should have known better than to think my little blog post would stay invisible.

    I did notice, after the fact, that I could have just looked at “with_friends” … I was (am?) still pretty new to Twitter.

    Though I decided it was a bit silly to keep following people more or less indiscriminately, a side effect of my experiment was that I more or less immersed myself in a large community of twitterers in a very short amount of time, and “met” a lot of interesting folks. While I’m not still trying to add anyone’s whole list (chose yours simply because it was so huge), I’ve found no one I would want to un-follow. If anything, I’d like to follow more people, and the process has been a great way to see the real value in apps like Twitter.

    Thanks for answering the question. ;-)

  4. Heh… I should have known better than to think my little blog post would stay invisible.

    I did notice, after the fact, that I could have just looked at “with_friends” … I was (am?) still pretty new to Twitter.

    Though I decided it was a bit silly to keep following people more or less indiscriminately, a side effect of my experiment was that I more or less immersed myself in a large community of twitterers in a very short amount of time, and “met” a lot of interesting folks. While I’m not still trying to add anyone’s whole list (chose yours simply because it was so huge), I’ve found no one I would want to un-follow. If anything, I’d like to follow more people, and the process has been a great way to see the real value in apps like Twitter.

    Thanks for answering the question. ;-)

  5. Can anyone point me to a good alternative for Twitteriffic for a windows based machine (sorry about that :-))

  6. Can anyone point me to a good alternative for Twitteriffic for a windows based machine (sorry about that :-))

  7. Hi Robert,
    I showed you Twitter mail last week on Stanford Photo Walk.
    You can get updates send o you by email for an aggregated overview of all responses made to you.
    I use this all the time, as it will free up a lot of your time.
    Next to that, the twitter mail functionality itself is a blast. Just sending an email with your update, that is neat.

    Cheers

    D&G

  8. Hi Robert,
    I showed you Twitter mail last week on Stanford Photo Walk.
    You can get updates send o you by email for an aggregated overview of all responses made to you.
    I use this all the time, as it will free up a lot of your time.
    Next to that, the twitter mail functionality itself is a blast. Just sending an email with your update, that is neat.

    Cheers

    D&G

  9. I suffer the same affliction mentioned above by Scott Monty. I get my tweets incoming via the Google Talk IM tool, so when I fire up the ol’ lappy-toppy in the morning, the night’s tweet come pouring in. I read them all.

    When I was gone for a week for my honeymoon last month, I came back, pasted the whole mess into a more stable Notepad instance and slowly sludged through every…single…tweet. Sad but cool. Time consuming but worth it.

    Of course, I only follow about 40-50 people (and have about the same number following me).

  10. I suffer the same affliction mentioned above by Scott Monty. I get my tweets incoming via the Google Talk IM tool, so when I fire up the ol’ lappy-toppy in the morning, the night’s tweet come pouring in. I read them all.

    When I was gone for a week for my honeymoon last month, I came back, pasted the whole mess into a more stable Notepad instance and slowly sludged through every…single…tweet. Sad but cool. Time consuming but worth it.

    Of course, I only follow about 40-50 people (and have about the same number following me).

  11. Great post to help explain Twitter – will forward to some newbies I know.

    And, thank you Boris for TwitterMail! It and Tweetbar combined have been what’s made it possible for me to become so engaged in Twitter.

  12. Great post to help explain Twitter – will forward to some newbies I know.

    And, thank you Boris for TwitterMail! It and Tweetbar combined have been what’s made it possible for me to become so engaged in Twitter.

  13. “Usually while I’m sleeping Europe and Asia are going full tilt.”

    that goes the other way round as well. I live in Germany and I follow you and some others from the US (like dave, marshall kirkpatrick and some more), usually around 3:00 to 4:00pm the US-people start to kick in. until then it’s mostly us europeans for me. :)
    the funny thing is: even more than with blogging, twitter brought to me this subconcsiousnesslike sense of one earth, of people being connected on the planet everythere. I mean a few years back I really didn’t think about different timezones and all, why should I had to anyway. Now I get remembered of that every day, most of the time (when being online and yaddayadda).

    that sounds stupidly pathetic and probably doesn’t make any sense. :)

  14. “Usually while I’m sleeping Europe and Asia are going full tilt.”

    that goes the other way round as well. I live in Germany and I follow you and some others from the US (like dave, marshall kirkpatrick and some more), usually around 3:00 to 4:00pm the US-people start to kick in. until then it’s mostly us europeans for me. :)
    the funny thing is: even more than with blogging, twitter brought to me this subconcsiousnesslike sense of one earth, of people being connected on the planet everythere. I mean a few years back I really didn’t think about different timezones and all, why should I had to anyway. Now I get remembered of that every day, most of the time (when being online and yaddayadda).

    that sounds stupidly pathetic and probably doesn’t make any sense. :)

  15. I don’t know if it’s just me, but being a bit of a newshound and an insatiably curious social networker, I find that I constantly have the desire to go back through my archives every morning (or every time I’m not connected for a bit – flight, family stuff, etc.). I can’t stand thinking that I might be missing something.

    At a certain point, I have to stop myself. I realize that I can’t be everywhere, I can’t take in everything. That’s part of what having a strong network of friends and colleagues is for. It’s akin to an executive who is confident enough to hire staff that are smarter than him/her.

    So, if I miss any breaking news or amazing developments, I’m sure my peeps will uncover it so I can learn about it from them. I don’t need to be the first one reporting on stuff – after all, I’m not the Associated Press…

  16. I don’t know if it’s just me, but being a bit of a newshound and an insatiably curious social networker, I find that I constantly have the desire to go back through my archives every morning (or every time I’m not connected for a bit – flight, family stuff, etc.). I can’t stand thinking that I might be missing something.

    At a certain point, I have to stop myself. I realize that I can’t be everywhere, I can’t take in everything. That’s part of what having a strong network of friends and colleagues is for. It’s akin to an executive who is confident enough to hire staff that are smarter than him/her.

    So, if I miss any breaking news or amazing developments, I’m sure my peeps will uncover it so I can learn about it from them. I don’t need to be the first one reporting on stuff – after all, I’m not the Associated Press…

  17. You might want to check out TwitterMail (yeah, I came with the idea) to keep up with replies. It made Twitter work for me because I now simply receive every reply in an email which makes it sooo much easier to keep up and with and reply to stuff.

  18. You might want to check out TwitterMail (yeah, I came with the idea) to keep up with replies. It made Twitter work for me because I now simply receive every reply in an email which makes it sooo much easier to keep up and with and reply to stuff.

  19. You’re so right about this particular tool NOT being for everyone. I takes time, energy and effort, but it can be immesely useful in creating conversation and directing attention. So now I know when to find some @scobleizer quality time…Milan’s feeding time!!

  20. You’re so right about this particular tool NOT being for everyone. I takes time, energy and effort, but it can be immesely useful in creating conversation and directing attention. So now I know when to find some @scobleizer quality time…Milan’s feeding time!!

  21. I would love to see a video of your twitter behavior similar to the video tim ferris did of your google reader habits. Also, a lot of events and conferences make twitter feeds, what about event specific accounts that add in ebent specific functionality? Maybe even rsvping for parties, paying for stuf etc…

  22. I would love to see a video of your twitter behavior similar to the video tim ferris did of your google reader habits. Also, a lot of events and conferences make twitter feeds, what about event specific accounts that add in ebent specific functionality? Maybe even rsvping for parties, paying for stuf etc…

  23. It’s like going to a cocktail party and trying to hear what everyone in the room is saying. It is simply impossible. I pick out some things to talk about with others I follow and sometimes I have original thought and start a Twitter thread. Others are just a funny thought that comes to mind or a microblog post. I too read all @ replies and either respond if needed or DM or email friends.

  24. It’s like going to a cocktail party and trying to hear what everyone in the room is saying. It is simply impossible. I pick out some things to talk about with others I follow and sometimes I have original thought and start a Twitter thread. Others are just a funny thought that comes to mind or a microblog post. I too read all @ replies and either respond if needed or DM or email friends.

  25. so…It’s me…:-) same use, same reading, same idea of twitter in the little Italian twittersphere…Not your numbers…but applied perfectly to my more than 500 following/followers (for Italy is a big number)

  26. so…It’s me…:-) same use, same reading, same idea of twitter in the little Italian twittersphere…Not your numbers…but applied perfectly to my more than 500 following/followers (for Italy is a big number)

  27. I guess I dont have to write this blog post. You’ve got it covered. Great to read it the way I see it. And besides, you reminded me to check out the Track feature. I forgot about it.

  28. I guess I dont have to write this blog post. You’ve got it covered. Great to read it the way I see it. And besides, you reminded me to check out the Track feature. I forgot about it.

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