This may well end up in the increasingly large box behind my desk labelled Web Services For Which I'm Clearly The Wrong Demographic, but I still feel compelled to react against the avalanche of excitement around social networking service Twitter, which has been burning rubber up the Alexa rankings lately.
For those of you in Internet Siberia, Twitter allows you to post little notes from your mobile phone, a browser or your IM client in answer to the simple question "What are you doing?". Apparently people want to know. To make sure your friends don't miss out they can subscribe to your Twitter channel and get IM or SMS updates at all times.
The blogosphere is full of delighted squeals from new subscribers, including Morten Lund and none other than Microsoft renegade Robert Scoble, whose own Twitter channel you can peruse here. Apparently fans call this "an addictive window into a social stream of consciousness."
Beth Kanter provides a more balanced summary of Twitter coverage, including some complaints about it being annoying, as well as links to new Twitter applications (look here for 76 of them!), which seem to be proliferating faster than Google Maps mashups.
Perhaps I'm not accurately conveying the value of Twitter... Here is an actual transcript of the public Twitter channel a few minutes ago:
kid_navajas Boards of canada, que bien sonaba.
tlg Leveraging the moment!
mcdinoh Heading to DS-5 & DS-2 for two deinstall tickets.
ajmoris woke up a little late this morning...got to kick it into high gear!
beamadelica I'm still listening to the Bees! Hooked. I might move onto the Byrds next, ho ho.
ev Tshirt I just saw: dolphins are gay sharks
wit At Ritual Coffee, the hand-crafted sign by the register now reads, "Please, no blogging in line."
Maggie Internet, I'm in labor. Do something.
darthvader Finding that dust and fingerprints show up too easily on gloss black. I should have opted for the Solar Yellow or Sedona Mist helmet color.
I'm not making this up.
While I can just about wrap my head around the value of building communities of like-minded folk within MySpace, Facebook and Flickr, I think Twitter as a social network is a dreadful idea. I can just about see its value as an extension to your blogging platform -- but a community? Twitter reminds me an awful lot of SMS.ac -- do you remember that annoying mobile community service? If you signed up you were doomed to receiving SMS's from lonely housewives. I nearly changed my phone number just to get off their list.
I predict a growing backlash against this trend of publishing every detail of our personal lives to the great Web. There is less and less that is social about these so-called social networks, which seem to be an excuse for communicating without actually creating any real relationships, physical or otherwise. Will we look back in a few years and regret that so many of our party photos, product reviews, blog comments, personal objectives, "references" from friends, career history and an audit trail of our daily banality are stored in the great public Web archive... FOREVER?!