diamond geezer

 Saturday, December 10, 2011

Five years ago today, I joined Twitter.

Concerned that this might be pointlessly addictive.
posted by diamondgeezer [10:15 AM Dec 10th, 2006]

I didn't realise what I was getting myself into, I simply signed up because it looked interesting. Twitter didn't take off properly until early 2009, which makes 2006 the digital equivalent of the stone age. Who knew it would become an integral part of daily life for so many?

There weren't many users in those days, and the whole microblogging thing was a bit niche. I was the 54,943rd person to join Twitter, just behind mike (50,113) and well behind Ann (12,496). Join up today and you'll be number 433,187,146.
» See London's first Twitter adopters here
» Check your own Twitter signup number here

Whatever you think of Twitter, the one thing it's done is to bring millions of people's private lives out into the open. Five years ago I didn't have a clue what you were eating for lunch, which bus you were stuck on, what you thought of tonight's X Factor or how your current relationship was going. Now you tell me everything about your life, sharing intimate details and heartfelt opinions, all broadcast freely like it was the most natural thing in the world. How quickly we evolve.

I'm still not playing the broadcast game, but I appear to be in the minority. I tell you only selective stuff about what I'm doing, which is why I've still only reached a total of 1547 tweets. But some of you are on 5000, or 18000, or 34000, or even more. You're treating Twitter as an internal monologue, or as external conversation, blowing all vestiges of privacy clean out of the water. I bet you never planned to do that when you set out.

One area where the designers of Twitter have been particularly cunning in opening up public conversation is in their belittling of private communication. Sending a Direct Message is easy enough, but Twitter appears to have gone out of its way to ensure the recipient will never notice. No front page indication appears when a message is received - not a flag, not a digit, not a flashing noise, nothing. Even if you think to click through to the messages tab, which you probably won't, the layout ensures that any additional latest message is incredibly hard to spot. So inefficient is the inbuilt DM system that people learn not to rely on it, shifting all private conversations into the public arena. Our collective changed mindset is to "tell the world everything", which is just what advertisers (and stalkers) always hoped.

I'm not sure I'll ever get that far. I've averaged 0.8 tweets a day over five years, which isn't enough to establish any sort of coherent dialogue. I choose not to tweet about my blog very much, because I don't think you need reminding every time I've posted something. I choose not to tweet about where precisely I am, or what I think of that witch on Question Time, or to engage in open conversation, because I don't think that's wise. I don't retweet news stories, because I assume you could have read them elsewhere on the net if you were interested. I'm not playing the game. But thanks ever so much if you're following me, and I hope I occasionally say something interesting enough to make it all worthwhile.
» Relive old Twitter, which still functions here and here
» Oh God, they're about to completely change the layout again

• Having a nice cup of tea. (10 Dec 06)
• Noting with interest the apparent preponderance of geeks and old-school bloggers amongst UK twitterers (14 Dec 06)
• Noting that Twitter is fast becoming *the* outlet for pissed-off bloggers to vent their frustration, anger and disappointment "in private" (6 Mar 07)
• Hi, diamond geezer. SpammyWebsiteOwner is now following your updates on Twitter. Check out SpammyWebsiteOwner's profile here... [BLOCK] (11 Apr 08)
• Damn you Twitter for collapsing during the Eurovision Song Contest. How can we all engage in respectful collective bitching without you? (24 May 08)
• Thinking I preferred Twitter when people were talking to everyone, not to each other (8 Jan 09)
• omg Twitter just noticed I had two new Tweets to read and told me so. That's new, innit? (9 Nov 09)
• Twitter's become less about what people have to say for themselves, and more about what they've seen other people say. (18 Jan 10)
• The worst thing about having adverts on Twitter will be the number of sheep who'll retweet them (13 Apr 10)
• Let me get this right. Twitter's trending topics now contain a topic that isn't trending, but is merely an advert <sigh> <click> <hide> (20 Jun 10)
• Ulp, the new version of Twitter has grasped me by its bony fingers #mandatoryNewTwittertweet (28 Sep 10)
• A bit sad that Twitter Search now only goes back a week, if you're lucky, then stops #historybecominginaccessible (14 Jun 11)
• I hate New Twitter, I hate it, I hate it, I hate it (and repeat, every time they do it) (15 Dec 11)

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