Friday, 13 February 2009

Twestival and the Twitter Sceptic

So Twestival was yesterday night, probably the most blogged about, tweeted about digital media event in the last year or so. I'm gonna keep this brief and just a few thoughts about the whole debate going on around the topic at the moment.

The event was good fun, seemed well organised and as far as I could see, went down pretty well with the 700 or so punters in London. It was all for a good cause and the people who donated their time and effort to organising it around the world should be applauded.

But, I was dismayed at one thing I saw - people using twitter on their phones while at the event. Surely the whole point of social networks is to find like minded people online with whom you can then get together in the local, at the cinema, on the footie pitch or wherever. So when the BBC manages to film loads of folks busy tapping away on their phones instead of talking to the real person standing right next to them, it gives the wrong impression. As texting is anti-social when your friend is with you, so is tweeting. It was almost as if some people were so proud of the cache of being at a Twestival that conversation was put on the backburner while they tweeted where they were. My phone spent the evening firmly lodged in my pocket while I danced to some of the great tunes that the DJ duo bashed out. Of course, the tweeters did put the phones down and joined the party as well.

It's a shame that the BBC video gives people like the Twitter sceptic (I'm not sure whether they just found the guy on the street) ammunition to dismiss Twitter as a medium for "vacuous, self obsessed people". He misses the point totally. Twitter is a self policing network, if you're not saying something interesting or useful then people won't want to hear it, so if there are self indulgent vacuous people on Twitter, as there are in real life, then they'll shortly have no followers bar their friends. These friends will put up with reading self obsessed tweets just as you put up with a friend moaning about their job, public transport, the weather or their latest haircut.

In fact, what's so refreshing about Twitter is exactly this, you choose who you want to listen to and what marketing messages you receive . If the same went for a lot of broadcast media and advertising then I would be a very happy chappie. I wouldn't have to sit through high amplitude DFS adverts on Channel 4 in between the sections of a programme I've actually chosen to watch. As a way of quickly sharing info and links or if you're a business, quickly communicating with customers, Twitter is unrivalled in my experience. As with anything, you can always have too much of a good thing, but as part of a balanced diet of media, Twitter can be perfectly heatlhy.

Some of you may notice that I've written this on a Friday night when traditional wisdom would suggest that I should be out and about in the real world instead of in front of a computer, but you know what? I'm skint and tired and I'm going to a party tomorrow night, I don't watch 'Enders or Corrie or Big Brother or the property porn that seems to take up most of TV airtime so you can take a running jump if you think my writing this means I haven't got a life!

No comments: