Twitter and inadequacy (er, the great friend divide)

I’m tracking the new “friend divide.” What is it?

Well, compare your experiences on a number of services when you only have one friend vs., say, 500. Look at Upcoming.org. Have only one friend? It really is empty looking and there’s not much value. Get 500? And you’ll have tons of events reporting to you that you’ll care about (you picked your friends carefully, right?) Plus, you’ll be able to see which events are more popular which may make them more interesting to you.

Look at Flickr? No friends? No photographs that you care about. Add your family and friends? Lots of fun stuff to look at.

Facebook? Same thing. Choose your friends wisely, though. Professional people don’t poke or ask you to join stupid applications. Get lots of college kids and you might just lose your mind.

Dopplr? No friends? You won’t have anyone to meet at the airport or take out for a beer.

Pownce? No friends? You won’t get sent cool music or cool photography.

Twitter? No friends? You will think it’s a lame service? Follow only me and you’ll probably go insane. Follow 500, though, and you’ll probably start to see the value that I see in this service.

The friend divide means that people who have no friends on these services have poor experiences and aren’t getting any interesting information or apps or photos or music, etc. People who have tons of friends have HUGELY different experiences on these services. I’ll demonstrate those differences in a video soon.

But that gets me to another point. This weekend Andrew Baron is selling his Twitter account. That’s a PR ploy. But what’s interesting is that people assume there’s value in getting his followers (probably because they assume there’s some value in spamming those followers with marketing messages). That’s funny since it’s so easy to unfollow people.

But there +is+ value in having a great group of people you’re following. Follow @craignewmark and you’ll see what Craig is seeing or thinking (he’s the founder of Craigs’ List). Follow @pierre and you’ll see what he’s thinking (he’s the founder of eBay). Follow HRBlock and you’ll see what the team at H&R Block is thinking about taxes and such. Follow @newmediajim and you’ll see what Jim Long, who is a camera guy in the press pool at the White House, is thinking about.

Now, do you start to get it? If you define yourself by who is following you you’ll always feel inadequate. After all, you can’t control your followers and any idiot can follow people. But, define yourself by who you are following and you can really build something of high value.

People still aren’t getting this. They didn’t get how I was using Twitter and still don’t. I follow the world’s best early adopters, business executives, and entrepreneurs. I really don’t care if I have a single follower. If I defined myself by my followers I’d always feel inadequate. If I define myself by the people who I follow, well, I follow the smartest, richest, coolest, funniest people in the world. That makes me smarter, richer, cooler, and funnier.

So, how do you define your experience online?

Comments

  1. You can get the same quality of information by looking at the homepage makers of:

    Digg, Reddit, Mixx, Delicious, StumbleUpon, YouTube etc

    The fact is that collectively these sites represent the minds of MILLIONS of people around the world.

    http://searchengines.wordpress.com/2007/02/08/intrigue/

    Of course, you can still search for certain accounts to see who voted for what if you want to narrow your focus

    By only using the sites you mentioned, you are limiting yourself to just a chosen few in your clique

  2. You can get the same quality of information by looking at the homepage makers of:

    Digg, Reddit, Mixx, Delicious, StumbleUpon, YouTube etc

    The fact is that collectively these sites represent the minds of MILLIONS of people around the world.

    http://searchengines.wordpress.com/2007/02/08/intrigue/

    Of course, you can still search for certain accounts to see who voted for what if you want to narrow your focus

    By only using the sites you mentioned, you are limiting yourself to just a chosen few in your clique

  3. You can get the same quality of information by looking at the homepage makers of:

    Digg, Reddit, Mixx, Delicious, StumbleUpon, YouTube etc

    The fact is that collectively these sites represent the minds of MILLIONS of people around the world.

    http://searchengines.wordpress.com/2007/02/08/intrigue/

    Of course, you can still search for certain accounts to see who voted for what if you want to narrow your focus

    By only using the sites you mentioned, you are limiting yourself to just a chosen few in your clique

  4. I like it. You describe why I use twitter and friendfeed…to see what the best and brightest are talking about. I was talking about the others, but now, I think I have to include you in that list.

  5. I like it. You describe why I use twitter and friendfeed…to see what the best and brightest are talking about. I was talking about the others, but now, I think I have to include you in that list.

  6. I like it. You describe why I use twitter and friendfeed…to see what the best and brightest are talking about. I was talking about the others, but now, I think I have to include you in that list.

  7. @ comment#2, if your thing is to follow the early adopter crowd, and you have a need to do so, what Scoble does probably makes sense. He is into/needs to know what’s going on with a bunch of products and services and I think following 20,000 on Twitter although perhaps insane gives him a way to control (or at least the illusion of control) participating in a much wider conversation net than he otherwise could.

    It’s definitely NOT an efficient approach for the masses, but it seems to work for Robert.

    In the same way, I don’t think following 6000 RSS feeds makes any sense at all efficiency wise for me, and the approach you recommend and similar approaches make far more sense to me.

  8. @ comment#2, if your thing is to follow the early adopter crowd, and you have a need to do so, what Scoble does probably makes sense. He is into/needs to know what’s going on with a bunch of products and services and I think following 20,000 on Twitter although perhaps insane gives him a way to control (or at least the illusion of control) participating in a much wider conversation net than he otherwise could.

    It’s definitely NOT an efficient approach for the masses, but it seems to work for Robert.

    In the same way, I don’t think following 6000 RSS feeds makes any sense at all efficiency wise for me, and the approach you recommend and similar approaches make far more sense to me.

  9. @ comment#2, if your thing is to follow the early adopter crowd, and you have a need to do so, what Scoble does probably makes sense. He is into/needs to know what’s going on with a bunch of products and services and I think following 20,000 on Twitter although perhaps insane gives him a way to control (or at least the illusion of control) participating in a much wider conversation net than he otherwise could.

    It’s definitely NOT an efficient approach for the masses, but it seems to work for Robert.

    In the same way, I don’t think following 6000 RSS feeds makes any sense at all efficiency wise for me, and the approach you recommend and similar approaches make far more sense to me.

  10. Robert, Thanks for this post.

    It provides a contrast I like with tweets I have seen counting followers out loud such as “I will donate xxx if I get to 500 followers tonight”.

    Sure I understand if you’re a band on MySpace. Number of followers reflects on your brand.

    But what is precious on Twitter for me is that it is a social network where I am experiencing relationships. It may be my delusion but it feels like that.

    Even when I am accepting followers for Singelringen, I do take the time to vet friend requests on MySpace and elsewhere. This is to protect my friends. I don’t want to expose them to profiles I don’t trust.

    I’m new to all this. I’m recently returning from Japan where we were surprisingly behind on hooking into social networks. I was well networked into the First Life world so I didn’t miss a second one. But I am very glad to have discovered Twitter as this network has been one of a few great transitions home.
    @lindasherman

  11. Robert, Thanks for this post.

    It provides a contrast I like with tweets I have seen counting followers out loud such as “I will donate xxx if I get to 500 followers tonight”.

    Sure I understand if you’re a band on MySpace. Number of followers reflects on your brand.

    But what is precious on Twitter for me is that it is a social network where I am experiencing relationships. It may be my delusion but it feels like that.

    Even when I am accepting followers for Singelringen, I do take the time to vet friend requests on MySpace and elsewhere. This is to protect my friends. I don’t want to expose them to profiles I don’t trust.

    I’m new to all this. I’m recently returning from Japan where we were surprisingly behind on hooking into social networks. I was well networked into the First Life world so I didn’t miss a second one. But I am very glad to have discovered Twitter as this network has been one of a few great transitions home.
    @lindasherman

  12. Robert, Thanks for this post.

    It provides a contrast I like with tweets I have seen counting followers out loud such as “I will donate xxx if I get to 500 followers tonight”.

    Sure I understand if you’re a band on MySpace. Number of followers reflects on your brand.

    But what is precious on Twitter for me is that it is a social network where I am experiencing relationships. It may be my delusion but it feels like that.

    Even when I am accepting followers for Singelringen, I do take the time to vet friend requests on MySpace and elsewhere. This is to protect my friends. I don’t want to expose them to profiles I don’t trust.

    I’m new to all this. I’m recently returning from Japan where we were surprisingly behind on hooking into social networks. I was well networked into the First Life world so I didn’t miss a second one. But I am very glad to have discovered Twitter as this network has been one of a few great transitions home.
    @lindasherman

  13. Robert,

    just how much time are you spending following half a thousand people around these services? do you really *know* these people at a meaningful level? (random pictures and one line twitter posts don’t seem all that conducive to knowing people — definitely not 500 of them…)

    Delia

    P.S. it all sounds rather silly to me… (sorry if I’m wrong) D.

  14. Robert,

    just how much time are you spending following half a thousand people around these services? do you really *know* these people at a meaningful level? (random pictures and one line twitter posts don’t seem all that conducive to knowing people — definitely not 500 of them…)

    Delia

    P.S. it all sounds rather silly to me… (sorry if I’m wrong) D.

  15. Very clever Robert, very clever indeed.

    I enjoy following you. Keep truckin’

    I must say Alert Thingy appears better presented to me than Twitter4Skype. Any thoughts?

  16. Very clever Robert, very clever indeed.

    I enjoy following you. Keep truckin’

    I must say Alert Thingy appears better presented to me than Twitter4Skype. Any thoughts?

  17. If I were to follow 20 000 people, each person would have to get my undivided attention for 4.32 seconds a day. That is if they only update once every 24 hours. Which is barely enough to read one tweet. I wouldn’t sleep, I wouldn’t eat. I would just read Twitter.

    You’re following 20k people because of the attention it brings to your ‘persona’, in reality you’re getting device updates from a much smaller (as in, realistically followable) group of people (under 1000 I assume). Clever.

  18. If I were to follow 20 000 people, each person would have to get my undivided attention for 4.32 seconds a day. That is if they only update once every 24 hours. Which is barely enough to read one tweet. I wouldn’t sleep, I wouldn’t eat. I would just read Twitter.

    You’re following 20k people because of the attention it brings to your ‘persona’, in reality you’re getting device updates from a much smaller (as in, realistically followable) group of people (under 1000 I assume). Clever.

  19. Excellant explanation of the value of twitter if used correctly. I follow people that I find interesting, I have no expectation that they will follow me, I think its nice, but not necessary.

  20. Excellant explanation of the value of twitter if used correctly. I follow people that I find interesting, I have no expectation that they will follow me, I think its nice, but not necessary.

  21. Robert
    if you follow people who have access to the primary sources of history – like a Whitehouse shutterbug – then there is a chance of disintermediating the traditional press and getting a look at the first draft of history at half a remove I suppose. Twitter hasn’t grabbed me but I can see how that might be interesting.

  22. Robert
    if you follow people who have access to the primary sources of history – like a Whitehouse shutterbug – then there is a chance of disintermediating the traditional press and getting a look at the first draft of history at half a remove I suppose. Twitter hasn’t grabbed me but I can see how that might be interesting.

  23. This reminds me of something I read on a blog recently, regarding all these feeds and how it relates to productivity:

    “Keeping up to date with industry news is important, but probably not as important as actually contributing to the industry.”

    …which struck a chord with me.

  24. This reminds me of something I read on a blog recently, regarding all these feeds and how it relates to productivity:

    “Keeping up to date with industry news is important, but probably not as important as actually contributing to the industry.”

    …which struck a chord with me.

  25. Great posting! Well put! As an early adopter, I struggle to get my real-life friends to join in. I follow some interesting people in twitter and I am happy with it. However, I find it difficult to explain to everyone else I know.

  26. Great posting! Well put! As an early adopter, I struggle to get my real-life friends to join in. I follow some interesting people in twitter and I am happy with it. However, I find it difficult to explain to everyone else I know.

  27. Wolf: first off, not everyone posts every day, so the number of messages is far less than you might expect. Second, I can read a Tweet in about .25 seconds. If it takes you longer to understand what 140 characters is about then you are pretty damn slow. Third, using search I can find and filter on just what I’m interested in. http://www.tweetscan.com for instance. How long does it take you to read a page of Tweets? Me? 10 seconds or less with dozens of Tweets.

  28. Wolf: first off, not everyone posts every day, so the number of messages is far less than you might expect. Second, I can read a Tweet in about .25 seconds. If it takes you longer to understand what 140 characters is about then you are pretty damn slow. Third, using search I can find and filter on just what I’m interested in. http://www.tweetscan.com for instance. How long does it take you to read a page of Tweets? Me? 10 seconds or less with dozens of Tweets.

  29. you follow the “best, A-List” bloggers? dude, you are a fuckin’ ho that follows anybody (man, woman or bot) that follows you.
    And would you please stop pretending you are a fuckin’ sociologist/social psychologist?

  30. you follow the “best, A-List” bloggers? dude, you are a fuckin’ ho that follows anybody (man, woman or bot) that follows you.
    And would you please stop pretending you are a fuckin’ sociologist/social psychologist?

  31. Delia: I need to do a video so you can see just how many people I do have a relationship with online and just how they add value to my life on all these services.

  32. Delia: I need to do a video so you can see just how many people I do have a relationship with online and just how they add value to my life on all these services.

  33. A well worthwhile explanation. I admit it took me a while to get my head around Twitter and its functionality as a social networking tool. But over the last week or two I’ve started to focus on what you’re talking about – the use of Twitter as a *listening* tool.

    Let’s face it, the interactive nature of the Web means that what we want to do most of the time is *talk*, whether that be through blogging, commenting, posting to social networking sites. Twitter is primarily a tool for listening, and sure it kind of falls down on functionality and purpose if all you’re doing is checking out how your friends are “feeling a bit tired today” or similar. But following high quality posters and business leaders can help you be first on the buzz for topics, get the earliest links to new blog posts etc.

    Sure it’s still interactive, but it’s more about providing you with information that you providing the world with your thoughts.

  34. A well worthwhile explanation. I admit it took me a while to get my head around Twitter and its functionality as a social networking tool. But over the last week or two I’ve started to focus on what you’re talking about – the use of Twitter as a *listening* tool.

    Let’s face it, the interactive nature of the Web means that what we want to do most of the time is *talk*, whether that be through blogging, commenting, posting to social networking sites. Twitter is primarily a tool for listening, and sure it kind of falls down on functionality and purpose if all you’re doing is checking out how your friends are “feeling a bit tired today” or similar. But following high quality posters and business leaders can help you be first on the buzz for topics, get the earliest links to new blog posts etc.

    Sure it’s still interactive, but it’s more about providing you with information that you providing the world with your thoughts.

  35. On the friends thing, I think the idea that Google suggest in the social graph api would help all of these different services, so you can join a service, and if your friends are already there, it knows this and adds them
    http://code.google.com/apis/socialgraph/

    As for Andrew Baron selling his twitter account, well I followed him, and as soon as I saw he was selling, I removed him ;)

  36. On the friends thing, I think the idea that Google suggest in the social graph api would help all of these different services, so you can join a service, and if your friends are already there, it knows this and adds them
    http://code.google.com/apis/socialgraph/

    As for Andrew Baron selling his twitter account, well I followed him, and as soon as I saw he was selling, I removed him ;)

  37. This time i totally agree with you and i liked this article. [We disagreed the last time i dropped a comment here though i guess (my intention was not to insult you... well, maybe i did... if so: sorry for that)]

    I define myself on Twitter and friendfeed by the persons i follow. Because: It defines what i’m interested in.

    Still, i need to judge. There’s many persons who’s opinion i’m interested in… on the other hand there’s this “number of tweets per hour” rate that controls who/what i follow.

    It is mainly a limitation of my Blackberry and the Twitter Clients available on it i guess. Would the iPhone solve this? Don’t know. Would a macbook solve this? Not with german dataplans for Wifi ;-)

  38. This time i totally agree with you and i liked this article. [We disagreed the last time i dropped a comment here though i guess (my intention was not to insult you... well, maybe i did... if so: sorry for that)]

    I define myself on Twitter and friendfeed by the persons i follow. Because: It defines what i’m interested in.

    Still, i need to judge. There’s many persons who’s opinion i’m interested in… on the other hand there’s this “number of tweets per hour” rate that controls who/what i follow.

    It is mainly a limitation of my Blackberry and the Twitter Clients available on it i guess. Would the iPhone solve this? Don’t know. Would a macbook solve this? Not with german dataplans for Wifi ;-)

  39. Your arguments Robert have several major flaws to them.

    I see Twitter as nothing more than the year 2008 version of CB Radio …for BlogStars (and their groupies)… here’s why:

    First, you see Twitter through the lens of a BlogStar – not my Mom and Sister (who have no need for sources, tips or breaking news). Just as casinos make the lions share of profits from grandma and the slot machine….social media gets the lion share of their users from people like my Mom and Sister. And they don’t get Twitter…

    Second, Twitter has numerous “deal breaker” flaws that I’m not sure they’ll ever fix:

    a. It’s incredibly difficult to see who’s who. What most people are doing is “making friends” with a catchy icon or someone who posts a few one liners. There is also a pretty good hype going on with many BlogStars throwing out “you should follow” edicts to their groupies. Weird.

    BlogStars would love that you “just follow who I say”.

    And to get the most out of Twitter, you pretty much have to follow who they say — because it’s damn near impossible to find relevant info on your own.

    b. Following entire conversations is nearly impossible (Yeah, I know how cool Friendfeed is – I listened the last 20 times you tweeted it. I know about Quotably).

    How quaint in this age that I have to use 10 add-ons to equal one “social experience”. Yet BlogStars repeatedly fail to draw any attention to this big shortcoming.

    c. Talking back to those you follow is near impossible – leaving a comment on a blog will always be FAR superior to trying to @scobeleizer through the vast noise that is the Twitter timeline.

    Don’t believe it — try replying sometime. But don’t do it from a recognizable twitter account. Then come back and post your experiences.

    d. My all time favorite signal that Twitter is topping out is that I’ve started to see BlogStars pompously proclaim “tell me why I should follow you”.

    Talk about the beginning of the end.

  40. Your arguments Robert have several major flaws to them.

    I see Twitter as nothing more than the year 2008 version of CB Radio …for BlogStars (and their groupies)… here’s why:

    First, you see Twitter through the lens of a BlogStar – not my Mom and Sister (who have no need for sources, tips or breaking news). Just as casinos make the lions share of profits from grandma and the slot machine….social media gets the lion share of their users from people like my Mom and Sister. And they don’t get Twitter…

    Second, Twitter has numerous “deal breaker” flaws that I’m not sure they’ll ever fix:

    a. It’s incredibly difficult to see who’s who. What most people are doing is “making friends” with a catchy icon or someone who posts a few one liners. There is also a pretty good hype going on with many BlogStars throwing out “you should follow” edicts to their groupies. Weird.

    BlogStars would love that you “just follow who I say”.

    And to get the most out of Twitter, you pretty much have to follow who they say — because it’s damn near impossible to find relevant info on your own.

    b. Following entire conversations is nearly impossible (Yeah, I know how cool Friendfeed is – I listened the last 20 times you tweeted it. I know about Quotably).

    How quaint in this age that I have to use 10 add-ons to equal one “social experience”. Yet BlogStars repeatedly fail to draw any attention to this big shortcoming.

    c. Talking back to those you follow is near impossible – leaving a comment on a blog will always be FAR superior to trying to @scobeleizer through the vast noise that is the Twitter timeline.

    Don’t believe it — try replying sometime. But don’t do it from a recognizable twitter account. Then come back and post your experiences.

    d. My all time favorite signal that Twitter is topping out is that I’ve started to see BlogStars pompously proclaim “tell me why I should follow you”.

    Talk about the beginning of the end.

  41. Scoble-

    You make it out like your way of using Twitter is the ONLY way.

    Yes, I’m over the 1k mark on both sides myself. I love Twitter. I love connecting with people. I love the eventstream/newsstream aspects of it. I get as much information through Twitter, if not more, as I do through Google Reader or its ilk.

    That said, Twitter doesn’t serve the same purpose, meet the same need, for everyone who uses it. Yes, I agree, following tons of people, interacting with as many people as possible, maximizes its value to ME. But you, me, doesn’t make a majority. Nor do we represent lowest common denominator.

    Plenty of people use Twitter to stay in close touch with a small number of friends. I think that’s great for them. But then you have those people who post in their bios “if you follow too many people, I’m going to block you!”

    I think both perspectives are obnoxious. Use Twitter however you’d like to use Twitter. Use it because it’s fun. Use it because it’s educational. But don’t use it because Robert Scoble told you to.

    And please, PLEASE people — stop with the mass adding. Scoble’s formula for gaining followers is nothing but an ego boost — yet Robert, you seem to be saying “Twitter shouldn’t be about ego.” Add people because you find them interesting and informative. Add people because you’d like to get to know them. Don’t add them to get your follow count up, it’s obnoxiously spammy.

  42. Scoble-

    You make it out like your way of using Twitter is the ONLY way.

    Yes, I’m over the 1k mark on both sides myself. I love Twitter. I love connecting with people. I love the eventstream/newsstream aspects of it. I get as much information through Twitter, if not more, as I do through Google Reader or its ilk.

    That said, Twitter doesn’t serve the same purpose, meet the same need, for everyone who uses it. Yes, I agree, following tons of people, interacting with as many people as possible, maximizes its value to ME. But you, me, doesn’t make a majority. Nor do we represent lowest common denominator.

    Plenty of people use Twitter to stay in close touch with a small number of friends. I think that’s great for them. But then you have those people who post in their bios “if you follow too many people, I’m going to block you!”

    I think both perspectives are obnoxious. Use Twitter however you’d like to use Twitter. Use it because it’s fun. Use it because it’s educational. But don’t use it because Robert Scoble told you to.

    And please, PLEASE people — stop with the mass adding. Scoble’s formula for gaining followers is nothing but an ego boost — yet Robert, you seem to be saying “Twitter shouldn’t be about ego.” Add people because you find them interesting and informative. Add people because you’d like to get to know them. Don’t add them to get your follow count up, it’s obnoxiously spammy.

  43. Hmmm – this sounds an awful lot like the “lurker” of yore. You have to do both — contribute and listen. Listening is easy – doing is hard!

  44. Hmmm – this sounds an awful lot like the “lurker” of yore. You have to do both — contribute and listen. Listening is easy – doing is hard!

  45. It’s taken me a long time to get Twitter but through following people like Chris Pirillo, Leo Laporte and Robert I’ve discovered SmugMug, ZigTag, Animoto and FriendFeed. I’m now using all the services these sites offer so that’s been Twitter’s value to me.

  46. It’s taken me a long time to get Twitter but through following people like Chris Pirillo, Leo Laporte and Robert I’ve discovered SmugMug, ZigTag, Animoto and FriendFeed. I’m now using all the services these sites offer so that’s been Twitter’s value to me.

  47. Having friends online bears a strong analogy(similarities) to having them offline in the real world. You provide value. You receive value. The more value you can provide, the higher order level of friend you attact. As stated, just like the real world.

    I like Scoble’s emphasis on numbers, to reach a critical mass, but also on quality over quantity. Quantity without quality is just noise. It is, as the expression goes, “a whole lot of nothing”. Quality with quantity is real power. You have a cross section of really influential people to draw upon and from.

  48. Having friends online bears a strong analogy(similarities) to having them offline in the real world. You provide value. You receive value. The more value you can provide, the higher order level of friend you attact. As stated, just like the real world.

    I like Scoble’s emphasis on numbers, to reach a critical mass, but also on quality over quantity. Quantity without quality is just noise. It is, as the expression goes, “a whole lot of nothing”. Quality with quantity is real power. You have a cross section of really influential people to draw upon and from.

  49. Great way to look at these services, especially twitter. I’ve been trying to understand it’s value as of late, but I think you just nailed it on the head. Thank you for the insightful post.

  50. Great way to look at these services, especially twitter. I’ve been trying to understand it’s value as of late, but I think you just nailed it on the head. Thank you for the insightful post.

  51. As someone who edits a gadget site for a living, the sites you mention not only allow me to keep up-to-date with real life friends, they have opened up sources of stories I would never have stumbled across on my own. Anything that makes the internet a little smaller and more manageable is ok in my book.

  52. As someone who edits a gadget site for a living, the sites you mention not only allow me to keep up-to-date with real life friends, they have opened up sources of stories I would never have stumbled across on my own. Anything that makes the internet a little smaller and more manageable is ok in my book.

  53. Friends aren’t collectibles, they aren’t Cracker Jack prize packs. And, in the way you use the service, you don’t so much care about them, as wanting them to care about YOU, narrowcasting style. But like RSS feeds, Tablets and Facebook, you will tire of this eventually anyways, only a matter of time.

  54. Friends aren’t collectibles, they aren’t Cracker Jack prize packs. And, in the way you use the service, you don’t so much care about them, as wanting them to care about YOU, narrowcasting style. But like RSS feeds, Tablets and Facebook, you will tire of this eventually anyways, only a matter of time.

  55. “If I define myself by the people who I follow, well, I follow the smartest, richest, coolest, funniest people in the world. That makes me smarter, richer, cooler, and funnier.”

    All I can say is WOW. Following people on Twitter makes you none of those things Scoble. You cannot have a meaningful relationship with 500 people on Twitter. Meaningful relationships that challenge you emotionally and intellectually take time and patience and effort. One way twits are not conversations, they are IMs that only stroke the senders ego in an effort to add importance or gain some attention to whatever task he or she is doing at that moment.

  56. “If I define myself by the people who I follow, well, I follow the smartest, richest, coolest, funniest people in the world. That makes me smarter, richer, cooler, and funnier.”

    All I can say is WOW. Following people on Twitter makes you none of those things Scoble. You cannot have a meaningful relationship with 500 people on Twitter. Meaningful relationships that challenge you emotionally and intellectually take time and patience and effort. One way twits are not conversations, they are IMs that only stroke the senders ego in an effort to add importance or gain some attention to whatever task he or she is doing at that moment.

  57. The issue with being on Pownce, Dopplr etc etc etc is you wind up following as many aggregators as friends. (exception in your case ;-)

  58. The issue with being on Pownce, Dopplr etc etc etc is you wind up following as many aggregators as friends. (exception in your case ;-)

  59. Robert, you swim in the froth at the tip of the rumor wave. You slide down the razor blade of the Right-Now. You pirouette with the buzz and try to kiss the future, pressing your face against the looking glass of next week.

    But that’s not for me. I’m just a tourist here, I don’t mind if my rumors are a few days old. I’m glad you follow the mad hurly-burly crowd; it means I don’t have to.

    (Sorry for all the metaphors.)

  60. Robert, you swim in the froth at the tip of the rumor wave. You slide down the razor blade of the Right-Now. You pirouette with the buzz and try to kiss the future, pressing your face against the looking glass of next week.

    But that’s not for me. I’m just a tourist here, I don’t mind if my rumors are a few days old. I’m glad you follow the mad hurly-burly crowd; it means I don’t have to.

    (Sorry for all the metaphors.)

  61. Funny thing is, Twitter is so easy it is hard to ‘get’. There is so much to it that just isn’t obvious when you join up and post your first tweet. If you really don’t want to follow a whole bunch of people you can track a person (like robert) and get both sides of the conversation.
    More here on this post where I describe how I cobbled together what, for me, is the ultimate twitter client:
    http://tinyurl.com/5azd7b

  62. Funny thing is, Twitter is so easy it is hard to ‘get’. There is so much to it that just isn’t obvious when you join up and post your first tweet. If you really don’t want to follow a whole bunch of people you can track a person (like robert) and get both sides of the conversation.
    More here on this post where I describe how I cobbled together what, for me, is the ultimate twitter client:
    http://tinyurl.com/5azd7b

  63. I use Google Reader in much the same way … I know, actual web site feeds must seem so old school but there is still a lot of content there. I can definitely see sliding over into a conversational mode with Twitter but frankly I find myself receding from distractions. Constant partial attention does not equal good work like extreme focus can.

    I don’t always tune into GReader and if tweets can carry similar meaning perhaps it’s a new space but it seems like the stack is just getting higher. So I read 3 dozen tweets in 1/10th the time I read 3 dozen articles in my GReader pool, but, those tweets simply add to the reading/consumption list.

    It’s about time. Increasing my conversation is usually a good thing, but, it’s the quality and relevance of that conversation in my simple life that matters. That’s how come I keep wondering how Twitter will reach beyond the current mass of a-lister puppy dogs.

  64. I use Google Reader in much the same way … I know, actual web site feeds must seem so old school but there is still a lot of content there. I can definitely see sliding over into a conversational mode with Twitter but frankly I find myself receding from distractions. Constant partial attention does not equal good work like extreme focus can.

    I don’t always tune into GReader and if tweets can carry similar meaning perhaps it’s a new space but it seems like the stack is just getting higher. So I read 3 dozen tweets in 1/10th the time I read 3 dozen articles in my GReader pool, but, those tweets simply add to the reading/consumption list.

    It’s about time. Increasing my conversation is usually a good thing, but, it’s the quality and relevance of that conversation in my simple life that matters. That’s how come I keep wondering how Twitter will reach beyond the current mass of a-lister puppy dogs.

  65. re: “Delia: I need to do a video so you can see just how many people I do have a relationship with online and just how they add value to my life on all these services.”

    OK, Robert — I’d watch that. (I just hope I’ll remember to check for it…)

    Delia

    P.S. take care! D.

  66. re: “Delia: I need to do a video so you can see just how many people I do have a relationship with online and just how they add value to my life on all these services.”

    OK, Robert — I’d watch that. (I just hope I’ll remember to check for it…)

    Delia

    P.S. take care! D.

  67. To #12 — A Leader without followers is mearly out for a walk.

    A true leader can be defined not by those who choose to follow him/her but by those he follows himself.

    There is the reason there are followers to those who those that chose to follow “up” to gain insight. Follow those who you like to see what they are doing and follow those with great insight will give you a greater and more beneficial experiance. Balance it!

    Great article!

  68. To #12 — A Leader without followers is mearly out for a walk.

    A true leader can be defined not by those who choose to follow him/her but by those he follows himself.

    There is the reason there are followers to those who those that chose to follow “up” to gain insight. Follow those who you like to see what they are doing and follow those with great insight will give you a greater and more beneficial experiance. Balance it!

    Great article!

  69. “The friend divide means that people who have no friends on these services have poor experiences and aren’t getting any interesting information or apps or photos or music, etc.”

    the day this ever applies to me, someone please unplug my computer and open the window.

  70. “The friend divide means that people who have no friends on these services have poor experiences and aren’t getting any interesting information or apps or photos or music, etc.”

    the day this ever applies to me, someone please unplug my computer and open the window.

  71. You just made my day! I follow a lot of great people (like you), but don’t have too many following me yet. I’ll focus more on who I follow. Thanks!

  72. You just made my day! I follow a lot of great people (like you), but don’t have too many following me yet. I’ll focus more on who I follow. Thanks!

  73. i completely agree with you. Now i am scrolling back up to see who else to follow. craigslist eh he he

  74. i completely agree with you. Now i am scrolling back up to see who else to follow. craigslist eh he he

  75. I just checked the ebay auction and it’s over $1500 with 8 days remaining. I really don’t see the value. It’s important, in the business world at least, to have a great following. However, quality is so much more important than quantity. Great can be 50 people who support you matter what. Great is not 2000 people who follow you for no reason and have no loyalty to you. The other way to be great is to be a great person with great ideas inspired by great people.

    Excellent points, Robert.

  76. I just checked the ebay auction and it’s over $1500 with 8 days remaining. I really don’t see the value. It’s important, in the business world at least, to have a great following. However, quality is so much more important than quantity. Great can be 50 people who support you matter what. Great is not 2000 people who follow you for no reason and have no loyalty to you. The other way to be great is to be a great person with great ideas inspired by great people.

    Excellent points, Robert.

  77. If not for Twitter I would not be involved in converations with some of the greatest developers, people and tech geeks the world has to offer.

    I would not have it any other way.

  78. If not for Twitter I would not be involved in converations with some of the greatest developers, people and tech geeks the world has to offer.

    I would not have it any other way.

  79. Robert I like it. I just followed Scott’s directions and Twitter is working much better for me now. I have to agree with nacho I often have a hard time getting real life friends interested in technology.

    I have been adding people from different countries that I either speak the language of with a degree of fluency or I am studying. As a linguist this allows me to pick up on changes and nuances in these languages by people who are native or regular users of these languages.

    Plus looking at Arabic, Hebrew and Cyrillic scripts on here is cool. Mix in some French, Spanish and Catalan and I start to get quite a worldview or cacophany if you like, Babel even.

    I have also added news services from different regions and am finding that I am getting news reports as they happen before the major wires are giving the full story.

    I heard about Twitter when it first started but it didn’t seem applicable to me at that time. I later joined it and tried to get a few friends and family on it. It was nice to have a new way to communicate with them but they all haven’t seemed as enthusiastic about it as I have and fair enough.

    However reading an article on Silicon Wadi led me to a whole series of clicks that has me using Twitter in a completely different way and in fact probably quite close to what Robert has described. I have about 50 people following me but I am following in theory about 500 twitter accounts although I would say that maybe a third of those are active.

    Yes some people say you can’t do it and if you have more than 500 people you are just clicking to add people and therefore don’t want to be ‘friends’ with you. As long as they allow me to follow them I am still getting the insights as described above.

    In a couple of instances this has been a little frustrating I would not have minded a conversation but that is as it may be. In one instance someone asked for their new followers to identify themselves and the only way to do that was to click on the link they provided to Facebook. That I didn’t actually feel inclined to want to add them as a Facebook ‘Friend’ although I did say hello provides some indication as to order of priority.

    One ‘twit’? asked me how I had located their profile but didn’t add me as a friend. I replied simply by stating I had entered cities and countries in the provided search boxes and added those who I thought had something to say. I am sure I will have more to say on this in the future. Probably 2 minutes after I submit this but… ;]

  80. Robert I like it. I just followed Scott’s directions and Twitter is working much better for me now. I have to agree with nacho I often have a hard time getting real life friends interested in technology.

    I have been adding people from different countries that I either speak the language of with a degree of fluency or I am studying. As a linguist this allows me to pick up on changes and nuances in these languages by people who are native or regular users of these languages.

    Plus looking at Arabic, Hebrew and Cyrillic scripts on here is cool. Mix in some French, Spanish and Catalan and I start to get quite a worldview or cacophany if you like, Babel even.

    I have also added news services from different regions and am finding that I am getting news reports as they happen before the major wires are giving the full story.

    I heard about Twitter when it first started but it didn’t seem applicable to me at that time. I later joined it and tried to get a few friends and family on it. It was nice to have a new way to communicate with them but they all haven’t seemed as enthusiastic about it as I have and fair enough.

    However reading an article on Silicon Wadi led me to a whole series of clicks that has me using Twitter in a completely different way and in fact probably quite close to what Robert has described. I have about 50 people following me but I am following in theory about 500 twitter accounts although I would say that maybe a third of those are active.

    Yes some people say you can’t do it and if you have more than 500 people you are just clicking to add people and therefore don’t want to be ‘friends’ with you. As long as they allow me to follow them I am still getting the insights as described above.

    In a couple of instances this has been a little frustrating I would not have minded a conversation but that is as it may be. In one instance someone asked for their new followers to identify themselves and the only way to do that was to click on the link they provided to Facebook. That I didn’t actually feel inclined to want to add them as a Facebook ‘Friend’ although I did say hello provides some indication as to order of priority.

    One ‘twit’? asked me how I had located their profile but didn’t add me as a friend. I replied simply by stating I had entered cities and countries in the provided search boxes and added those who I thought had something to say. I am sure I will have more to say on this in the future. Probably 2 minutes after I submit this but… ;]

  81. Great post Robert! Couldn’t agree more. There is obviously benefit to having followers and following others though. Sure, you can gain a lot of insight from following lots of quality people. Likewise, having thousands of people listening to you doesn’t hurt either.I think the end game with Twitter is to have lots of both.

  82. Great post Robert! Couldn’t agree more. There is obviously benefit to having followers and following others though. Sure, you can gain a lot of insight from following lots of quality people. Likewise, having thousands of people listening to you doesn’t hurt either.I think the end game with Twitter is to have lots of both.

  83. You have described the reasons why I primarily use my site to read feeds rather than worry about who might ever read my occasional blog entries. The programmer in me wants to do this myself so I’m having great fun adding tons of feeds using Drupal and some modules. Having lots of feeds aggregated doesn’t mean I have to read everything coming in all of the time, that would be a bit crazy. I just read the things I want when I want. I delete feeds that bore me. I add feeds that sound interesting. A friend can just look at my site to see what I’m interested in. Very fun. I gather Twitter is much the same except that short burst change the nature of the communication.

  84. You have described the reasons why I primarily use my site to read feeds rather than worry about who might ever read my occasional blog entries. The programmer in me wants to do this myself so I’m having great fun adding tons of feeds using Drupal and some modules. Having lots of feeds aggregated doesn’t mean I have to read everything coming in all of the time, that would be a bit crazy. I just read the things I want when I want. I delete feeds that bore me. I add feeds that sound interesting. A friend can just look at my site to see what I’m interested in. Very fun. I gather Twitter is much the same except that short burst change the nature of the communication.

  85. Social networking can be a wonderful tool that allows me to be myself at a greater distance. I’m working on a news story I’m calling Street Kids Across America simply because I connected with a memoirist expert on the matter from the U.S. East Coast via MySpace. I’m localizing with my own hyperlocal content on the U.S. West Coast. That’s the power of social networking.

    I’m barely beginning Twitter but already have an interview lined up with Noah Glass. Why? Because Twitter has been developed to help people connect minds, ideas and more. And I’ve only been twittering a week… great post.

  86. Social networking can be a wonderful tool that allows me to be myself at a greater distance. I’m working on a news story I’m calling Street Kids Across America simply because I connected with a memoirist expert on the matter from the U.S. East Coast via MySpace. I’m localizing with my own hyperlocal content on the U.S. West Coast. That’s the power of social networking.

    I’m barely beginning Twitter but already have an interview lined up with Noah Glass. Why? Because Twitter has been developed to help people connect minds, ideas and more. And I’ve only been twittering a week… great post.

  87. I ponder the future of Twitter. The question I ponder is: is it scalable? I don’t mean can it support n million users, but whether user x can really get great value from following too many users. Now that I am following like 1,000 people, I find it hard to follows the ones that say interesting things. And of course I can prune that list, but what will I miss. Its like trying to listen in on two many conversations at a party.

    Will Twitter have to go with a ‘groups’ approach? Where you can group users… and then how does the top level UI change?

    Or maybe my brain is too small to process x conversations at once. That’s probably true independent of the comments I made above.

  88. I ponder the future of Twitter. The question I ponder is: is it scalable? I don’t mean can it support n million users, but whether user x can really get great value from following too many users. Now that I am following like 1,000 people, I find it hard to follows the ones that say interesting things. And of course I can prune that list, but what will I miss. Its like trying to listen in on two many conversations at a party.

    Will Twitter have to go with a ‘groups’ approach? Where you can group users… and then how does the top level UI change?

    Or maybe my brain is too small to process x conversations at once. That’s probably true independent of the comments I made above.

  89. Sometimes I feel sort of pathetic since I don’t follow any “real-life” friends on Twitter. I’ve tried to talk them into trying it out, but none have any interest. I follow people like Scoble, Leo, Kevin, Dvorak (finally) and other Tech folk I’ve been fans of over the years. I enjoy receiving their tweets and hearing what’s going on, so I guess that’s what it’s all about. For me at least.

  90. Sometimes I feel sort of pathetic since I don’t follow any “real-life” friends on Twitter. I’ve tried to talk them into trying it out, but none have any interest. I follow people like Scoble, Leo, Kevin, Dvorak (finally) and other Tech folk I’ve been fans of over the years. I enjoy receiving their tweets and hearing what’s going on, so I guess that’s what it’s all about. For me at least.

  91. The Google Talk Gadget is pretty nifty actually. I was working all night and about to wind down and I saw out of the corner of my eye a couple of tweets from my daughter who didn’t seem like a happy camper after getting a nasty critique on her design work. I guess her boyfriend wasn’t around ;].

    I fired off one @message and then 5-6 directs at her. She gets them to her cellphone, we are a few timezones and a continent apart. So very cool twitter function amongst all the other networking. It’s also personal.

  92. The Google Talk Gadget is pretty nifty actually. I was working all night and about to wind down and I saw out of the corner of my eye a couple of tweets from my daughter who didn’t seem like a happy camper after getting a nasty critique on her design work. I guess her boyfriend wasn’t around ;].

    I fired off one @message and then 5-6 directs at her. She gets them to her cellphone, we are a few timezones and a continent apart. So very cool twitter function amongst all the other networking. It’s also personal.

  93. [...] Twitter and inadequacy (er, the great friend divide) « Scobleizer — Tech geek blogger Scoble discusses the friend divide occurring on the social web and also how we should worry more about who we follow rather than who follows us. (tags: socialnetworking socialmedia socialnetwork twitter scoble facebook) [...]

  94. Great message, Robert. Did someone say brilliant? Well, maybe not revolutionary, but I definitely thank you for bringing some common sense to the party ;-)

    I have been tracking some social media trends on my blog as well, and have a track-back setup for you as well over at http://www.changeforge.com/2008/04/17/scoble-on-the-friend-divide-in-social-media/

    Keep up the great thoughts. It’s tough following the volume of your posts, but these little gems are worth it.

  95. Great message, Robert. Did someone say brilliant? Well, maybe not revolutionary, but I definitely thank you for bringing some common sense to the party ;-)

    I have been tracking some social media trends on my blog as well, and have a track-back setup for you as well over at http://www.changeforge.com/2008/04/17/scoble-on-the-friend-divide-in-social-media/

    Keep up the great thoughts. It’s tough following the volume of your posts, but these little gems are worth it.

  96. Yeah, you keep saying this, and I get it, and it’s true, Facebook was dead for me even with old college friends or relatives, until I followed you and mined your friends to make my newsfeed more interesting BUT…

    You can’t build worlds only on having the 2 or 10 percent of content producers acquire followers.

    And that’s all you’re doing, is mining the millions of Twitterers for the ppl who make content. The examples you supplied are all professional content produers. While it’s true you have lots of guys named Joe fooling around in their garage in Dubuque, Iowa, took, you couldn’t expect to mine their occasional insight to keep yourself from being bored forever.

    Everyone who has ever been on a MMORPG or Virtual World knows that the 10 make for the other 90. Will Wright always talked about this. It’s a kind of law. Perhaps social media bumps this up *a tiny bit* to make *a few more people* content providers. It enables amateurs to get a look-see. But, ultimately, there are vast quantities of consumers, looking for content, and you can’t pretend you are dining out on gazing at the infinite reflection of them following you as really satisfying just because it makes you feel altruistic.

  97. Yeah, you keep saying this, and I get it, and it’s true, Facebook was dead for me even with old college friends or relatives, until I followed you and mined your friends to make my newsfeed more interesting BUT…

    You can’t build worlds only on having the 2 or 10 percent of content producers acquire followers.

    And that’s all you’re doing, is mining the millions of Twitterers for the ppl who make content. The examples you supplied are all professional content produers. While it’s true you have lots of guys named Joe fooling around in their garage in Dubuque, Iowa, took, you couldn’t expect to mine their occasional insight to keep yourself from being bored forever.

    Everyone who has ever been on a MMORPG or Virtual World knows that the 10 make for the other 90. Will Wright always talked about this. It’s a kind of law. Perhaps social media bumps this up *a tiny bit* to make *a few more people* content providers. It enables amateurs to get a look-see. But, ultimately, there are vast quantities of consumers, looking for content, and you can’t pretend you are dining out on gazing at the infinite reflection of them following you as really satisfying just because it makes you feel altruistic.

  98. “The friend divide means that people who have no friends on these services have poor experiences and aren’t getting any interesting information or apps or photos or music, etc. People who have tons of friends have HUGELY different experiences on these services.”

    - Isn’t that why it’s called social networking?

  99. “The friend divide means that people who have no friends on these services have poor experiences and aren’t getting any interesting information or apps or photos or music, etc. People who have tons of friends have HUGELY different experiences on these services.”

    - Isn’t that why it’s called social networking?

  100. Hey Robert,

    great post. It’s all about engaging people. What u put in is what u will get out of it. I started following you on @CoachDeb recommendation.

    Enjoyed reading your Israel tweets.

    Your quote sums it all up:

    “If you define yourself by who is following you you’ll always feel inadequate. But, define yourself by who you are following and you can really build something of high value.”

    Ann Rusnak
    “The Time Diva”

  101. Hey Robert,

    great post. It’s all about engaging people. What u put in is what u will get out of it. I started following you on @CoachDeb recommendation.

    Enjoyed reading your Israel tweets.

    Your quote sums it all up:

    “If you define yourself by who is following you you’ll always feel inadequate. But, define yourself by who you are following and you can really build something of high value.”

    Ann Rusnak
    “The Time Diva”

  102. I agree with the last part most. I love to read blogs by people from other fields than mine, I think I learn more from them than from reading what people who do exactly the same thing as me have to say. Similarly, I enjoy immensely ‘listening’ to twitterers with different interests. But many still think this is a waste of time, with no immediate return. Is our life one of immediate returns only?

    Thanks for this post. Nadine Touzet

  103. I agree with the last part most. I love to read blogs by people from other fields than mine, I think I learn more from them than from reading what people who do exactly the same thing as me have to say. Similarly, I enjoy immensely ‘listening’ to twitterers with different interests. But many still think this is a waste of time, with no immediate return. Is our life one of immediate returns only?

    Thanks for this post. Nadine Touzet

  104. [...] Scobleizer writes about the issue with “friend divide: The friend divide means that people who have no friends on these services have poor experiences and aren’t getting any interesting information or apps or photos or music, etc. People who have tons of friends have HUGELY different experiences on these services. [...]

  105. I think you’re right on track with this. A lot of people want to collect followers for some sort of ego value, but I think it’s more for the exchange of information. I cull good little tidbits from Twitter and I have great conversations on Pownce. I learn about good sites on StumbleUpon, and so on…I treat my friending differently in each space.

    On Twitter I’ll follow back most people, except for the obvious “friend collectors.” As my Pownce list has grown, I’ve become a bit fussier. I aim for slow growth there because I don’t want to have so many friends that I can’t keep up with, and reply to the threads. I guess you have to fine-tune the strategy to each community.

    But really the difference between social media and regular Web sites is the direction of communication. We’re not just pushing content out on these sites, if we do just that we’ll be ignored. Instead we’re sharing our ideas, consuming the ideas of others and sometimes having a conversation in the process. That can’t be done with a tiny friends list. It needn’t be as large as yours, but I do think you need to reach a certain saturation point in order for the dialog to happen.

    And while some are skeptical of your ability to manage such large lists, you’re also quite good at replying to Tweets, so somehow you are managing which shows that it must be working for you.

    p.s. I saw a few people mentioning FriendFeed which is a cool tool, but I’ve recently started using http://www.socialthing.com and found it’s another great way to keep track of multiple accounts in one location. Quite handy even if managing smaller groups than yours.

  106. I think you’re right on track with this. A lot of people want to collect followers for some sort of ego value, but I think it’s more for the exchange of information. I cull good little tidbits from Twitter and I have great conversations on Pownce. I learn about good sites on StumbleUpon, and so on…I treat my friending differently in each space.

    On Twitter I’ll follow back most people, except for the obvious “friend collectors.” As my Pownce list has grown, I’ve become a bit fussier. I aim for slow growth there because I don’t want to have so many friends that I can’t keep up with, and reply to the threads. I guess you have to fine-tune the strategy to each community.

    But really the difference between social media and regular Web sites is the direction of communication. We’re not just pushing content out on these sites, if we do just that we’ll be ignored. Instead we’re sharing our ideas, consuming the ideas of others and sometimes having a conversation in the process. That can’t be done with a tiny friends list. It needn’t be as large as yours, but I do think you need to reach a certain saturation point in order for the dialog to happen.

    And while some are skeptical of your ability to manage such large lists, you’re also quite good at replying to Tweets, so somehow you are managing which shows that it must be working for you.

    p.s. I saw a few people mentioning FriendFeed which is a cool tool, but I’ve recently started using http://www.socialthing.com and found it’s another great way to keep track of multiple accounts in one location. Quite handy even if managing smaller groups than yours.

  107. Man, what a great post! I’m new to twitter and really think it has great potential. And I agree that a lot can be learned from who “you” follow, not who is following “you”.

    I’ve just did some catchup (use to follow, then left, now I’m back) on your blog reading. Keep you the great work.

  108. Man, what a great post! I’m new to twitter and really think it has great potential. And I agree that a lot can be learned from who “you” follow, not who is following “you”.

    I’ve just did some catchup (use to follow, then left, now I’m back) on your blog reading. Keep you the great work.

  109. [...] Vor geraumer Zeit war ich im imposanten Funkhaus des Bayerischen Rundfunks (erbaut 1974-76 von Helmut von Werz) zu Gast. Dort habe ich mit Armin Hirsch für den Zündfunk über Twitter unterhalten. Genauer: Über die These von Robert Scoble, ohne eine große Zahl von Twitterkontakten würde man das Leben verpassen. Er nennt das “great friend divide“. [...]

  110. I am exploring to see what all the fuss is about Twitter. You explained it well. I am eager to try it. I understand following someone. Why would anyone want to be followed?

  111. I am exploring to see what all the fuss is about Twitter. You explained it well. I am eager to try it. I understand following someone. Why would anyone want to be followed?