Critics argue Twitter is 99% noise, and they’re right.

This is a complaint that I often come across when discussing Twitter with non-users, they cite media hype and their own experience with Twitter claiming that the majority of tweets on the service are of no interest, or simply “people telling the world about their breakfast” or some variant on the inane comments theory.

They are right.

But they are also missing the point.

For any individual 99% of the internet will always be useless noise. For instance, when was the last time you went to YouTube and watched all the top videos and were interested in them all? I’m guessing never. Does this mean that YouTube is useless because so little of the content is of interest to any particular individual? No.

In reality you filter the videos you watch on YouTube by search, by channel, or by receiving the video as a recommendation by a friend. Twitter is much the same, You cut through the noise by following those users who match search criteria, by following twitter lists or by following those other users/friends recommend.

The critics have made the mistake of confusing the Macro-Twitter environment (ie: All the tweets from every user) with the Micro-Twitter environment that an individual user experiences (Only tweets by persons of interest/value) when they are discriminatory in how they use Twitter.

It’s up to the users of Twitter to explain this important error in perception to non users, or risk the continued alienation of a large segment of the online community.

So how will you do this?

5 thoughts on “Critics argue Twitter is 99% noise, and they’re right.”

  1. Part of the problem is Twitter’s “suggested users” list. Try creating a new Twitter account today and you will be presented with a cavalcade of tedious American TV and sporting personalities, all auto-selected for you to follow. Apparently Twitter is trying to become a self-publishing gossip rag.

    Of course you can unselect the suggestions and find your own way, in which case as you suggest Twitter becomes really useful and interesting. But many people don’t touch the default settings, so I think Twitter is twirling, ever twirling toward a stupid dominant culture.

    In this Twitter is like all commoditised cultural milleux. So Twitter as a whole can now be criticised for being shallow, just as one might criticise, say, Sydney. Fotunately Twitter
    is large and diverse enough that this overall
    shallowness need not impinge on anyone who chooses to ignore it. That requires skipping the default experience though, so this criticism will likely increase if anything.

  2. Well written Dave… impressed with the separation of the macro-twitter environment, and the micro-twitter environment… very hard to explain to a non-user…

  3. you just got an active non user to read your nice post(i.e i created an account and stopped checking out when i began to see a 100 tweets from my family member who has to tell the world how her headache starts her day !!). Nicely written. But I still have a basic doubt and I would appreciate if you could clear it for me and move me to being a truly active user. Can I selectively receive tweets from an individual ?? Let me explain this. We are all have different things to share with different group. Like the headache should be at best her hubby or children’s headache !! Can you create a group of people who should see a particular tweet? So I could have a family group, an office group, a generic group etc … & put my tweet on breakfast or headache targeted to family. I see lists .. ( beta ) but from my initial look at it, it is more a way to sift how i should view not how others should receive. I may be wrong … please throw some light 🙂

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