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you read it here first!* Twitter’s got bird-flu…

06 Aug

*Admittedly, you probably didn’t read it here at all. The blog had 8 subscribers when I wrote the post I’m referring to. But it makes a better headline than the excruciating ‘Twitter ye not’, eh?

I don’t use Twitter. This is for various reasons.

I am unmoved by the concept of micro blogging. I tend not to like many new trends of this sort because they end up with the tail wagging the dog, and either libraries or Information Professionals scurrying round trying to find uses for the technology, rather than the technology serving us. I’m not into social-networking generally; my MySpace account has lain dormant for months, and although I can see benefits of FaceBook I think overall the quality of my life is improved by never having to check it (and spend 6 hours a month like UK users do on average – that’s a significant chunk of time, and I already while away enough hours on online frippery as it is). Twitter can crash, like it apparently did at 3pm today (admit it – your first thought was to Tweet wondering why you couldn’t Tweet), and it can be quite expensive (I know it is free to sign-up, but footballer Darren Bent’s Twitter Rant cost him in fines from his club a figure it takes me more than three years to earn)…  I can’t quite get my head round the idea that people are interested enough in my daily life to post 140 character updates as to what I’m doing, although I can see that it’s a useful mechanism for instantly disseminating information or sparking debate, in a professional context. But the final nail in Twitter’s coffin for me was signing up under a test name to see what the fuss was about, and amassing a small group of followers despite never having tweeted… What were these people thinking?

Anyhow, not so long ago (a mere two blog posts, in fact) I wrote a practical guide to creating a website. In the section about why it was worth having one of your own at all these days with so many different ways of enjoying a presence on the web, among other reasons I wrote that your own website may be a little more future proof than any social-networking platform, what with the latter being subject to the whims of internet companies or the possibility of their being a fad. The example I gave was that they could go the way of Friends Reunited – purchased by ITV in late 2005 for £120 million as their grand new foray into Social-Networking, with a total spend of £175 million; soon superseded by the likes of FaceBook, MySpace and Twitter itself, and put up for sale for around £15 million last month (losing ITV an estimated 90% of their investment, stat-fans!).

Well, that prediction of doom looked more likely than ever to come true today, as Ofcom released their Communications Market Report. This is worth a look, for Information Professionals, whether you care about Social Networking or not. It showed that while internet use in the UK is still booming (up 21.5% year on year), there has been drop in the use of Social Networking sites (down 5%) by the key 15-24 year-old demographic, for the first time.  The basic reason for this, suggested by The Guardian and others, is that the 25-34 year-olds have moved in, cluttered up the space, and made it frightfully uncool for the younger generation. So we can no longer claim to be helping Information Professionals communicate with the Google Generation via Twitter…

Of course, this isn’t really the death-knell for Twitter at all. The figure of 2.6 million users given in the Ofcom report is thought to be out of date already, such is the site’s rate of growth. But it is a reminder that things which seem all the rage can die away very quickly indeed (Second Life has lost massive amounts of users, apparently:  good, nothing winds me up more than libraries trying to be down with the second-life kids, although I’m sure someone, somewhere, has managed to do it well. Possibly) and that it doesn’t do to invest too many of your communicative eggs in one potentially transient basket (or in this case, nest)…

And I challenge anyone to find a more laboured metaphor in the info-pro blogosphere than that!

- thewikiman

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