The Point of Twitter

Friday, April 23, 2010


Last year the buzz on Twitter was that it was a mind-bogglingly important tech innovation, the only catch being that nobody could figure out what exactly it was for. This year, the geekerati say they've finally answered that question. Bob headed over to the Twitter-centric 140 Character Conference to learn more.

Comments [22]

Bri Okamoto from raleigh

this is true, twitter is much more of a instant news site then anything. Depending on how many followers you have you can find out information of almost anything from your followers telling you. In highschool, if something exciting is happening the entire school will be posting their comments and information about it in seconds.

Feb. 28 2011 09:47 PM
Dion Twayne Watson from uptown

In my eyes twitter is the new facebook. It's a new way to talk to your frineds and meet new people, but now you can let everyone now whats going on with every second of your life instead. at times i found twitter very complicated but once you get the hang of it. Its not that hard to use and its actually fun. You have to have a lot to talk about or a lot to say. twiiter was a very smart idea.

Feb. 03 2011 11:39 AM

The stereotype of twitter user's is just horrible. Tweets such as what your doing, or what ur eating make up very little of of the majority. I am an avid twitter user and use it for mainly for 2 reasons along with many others. 1: I use it to communicate with my friends around the world. 2: I use it to stay on top of whats happening such as "New video uploaded! check it out" or "Read this article!". My school even has a twitter and it is very helpful. I feel like i would be disconnected form a large part of the world if i could not use twitter.

Jul. 29 2010 02:58 PM

Thanks, @blackbelt_jones, for introducing a dose of reality into this frustrating series of comments. It's easy to ridicule something that has no value TO YOU. That doesn't mean that others don't use it. Heck, the Brooklyn Museum has a great Twitter account as does NASA which organizes events where people who love the space program can tour the facility. Authors answer questions from readers. Friends share their lives with each other. I can attend conferences happening in foreign country by watching webcasts & looking at Twitter feeds that I could never travel to and participate in otherwise. In the past two years on Twitter, I have met (online & in person) more interesting people than in the previous 10 years. And I got my job through Twitter!

No one is forcing you to use Twitter. But by criticizing a technological & communication tool that you clearly don't use, you really sound ignorant. I'm not trying to convert you (it's not for everyone), just telling you that your Twitter-bashing makes you sound like an old man yelling, "You darn kids with your skateboards, get off of my lawn!"

May. 22 2010 03:25 PM

plistna, you understand that Tweets can contain links to actual full length articles, right? There is nothing on the web that cannot be shared by way of twitter, and the format allows a lot of people with a common interest to network information in an easily scannable way. There are ways of searching twitter that make finding other users with similar interests easy, and as a blogger, I have found a way to get what I write to interested readers, so I'm writing more.

Every form of communication has trivial and significant uses. I follow 174 people, including authors and journalist. To the best of my knowledge, not one of them has mentioned Justin Bieber.

May. 02 2010 08:59 PM
plistna from NY

The most telling part of this segment was the fact that the only "useful" example of twitter discussed was how *journalists* can easily reach out to many for ideas, news and contacts. This is undoubtedly useful for journalists but totally useless for the vast majority of people. This tunnel vision really shows how why the media if endlessly fascinated with it, while no one with even a modestly busy lifestyle cares a whit about it. VCs and journalists love to bring up the millions of users, but the fact is the vast majority of people sign up and never use it at all once they understand how limited (to the point of uselessness) it is. Despite the media love affair with the concept, communicating during revolts is a pretty tiny use case, as is use by conference promoters and journalists looking for useful contacts or ideas.

Twitter is the Paris Hilton of the Internet - famous for being famous, all hype. Twitter will soon flame out to insignificance, but not before the VCs dump this on a clueless company or stock buying public.

May. 02 2010 12:06 AM

." I dont see any thing useful about twitter but that is how todays generation is."

What a telling statement! If I take your words by their literal meaning, they seem to be holding the present generation, whoever that is, responsible for their inability to be understood by you. You're like the baby playing peek-a-boo. You don't see the use, so it doesn't exist.

There are millions and millions of people on Twitter, and they're not all talking about Justin Bieber. If you can't find someone interesting to follow, that's your own fault. Just this morning I added the Dalai Lama to my follow list.

People always focus on the trivial. The best part about twitter is that the 140 character limit forces the writer to be direct and brief. It's making people better writers, and some of these brief missives about everyday experiences have a kind of william carlos williams clarity that is a real joy, but there are also tweets in which writers mention what they've been reading, and people with common interests share links to relevant information. I've used it to get the word out about software that I created, and I was able to reach a much larger audience. I was on twitter in real time when a father learned his son had died in Afghanistan. I'll always remember that his name was Aaron and he was killed on the 4th of July.

May. 01 2010 03:15 AM
Dalton Ries

Twitter is a social networking site that is just amazingly pointless. It is the largest waste of time I have ever seen. people constantly telling the world their every move of the day is stupid in my eyes. yet it is the new rage with millions and millions of users. I dont see any thing useful about twitter but that is how todays generation is. the question is asked in the podcast. who cares!?

Apr. 28 2010 04:21 PM
Chelsea from Pueblo West, Colorado

I am not a personal user of Twitter, but I can see why people like the site. For a Twitter user, there is probably some sort of self-gratification that comes from posting your life online 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It just makes people feel a little more important to their virtual world. I would never really waste my time getting an account just because I know that no one cares that I am going to the bathroom or eating sushi. Some updates that I see on Facebook are interesting, so I'm sure that people post some interesting things on Twitter as well, I just don't have the motivation to find out for myself.

Apr. 28 2010 02:22 AM
Cosmo Lee from Brooklyn NY

Dear OTM (04/25/2010):

I was crushed to hear Bob Garfield use the word "factoid" in its popular, but disreputable usage to mean "trivia" or "bit of fact". Factoid, properly defined (American Heritage Dictionary 2009) is:

A piece of unverified or inaccurate information that is presented in the press as factual, often as part of a publicity effort, and that is then accepted as true because of frequent repetition: "What one misses finally is what might have emerged beyond both facts and factoids—a profound definition of the Marilyn Monroe phenomenon" (Christopher Lehmann-Haupt).

The suffix -oid tells you all you need to know. It means like, or resembling, but not actually being the thing it refers to. A humanoid is like a human, but not actually a human; a metalloid is like a metal, but not a metal. And so, a factoid resembles a fact, but ISN'T one.

In short, a factoid is a FALSE-FACT. It is far too important a word in the context of the media and the press for OTM to be lobbing about glibly and sloppily. It is exactly this that we listeners expect is OTM's duty to expose rather than propagate. The OTM mission should be to function as factoid-busters.

Your punishment is to repeat ten times: "A factoid is false!"

Cosmo Lee

ps: See further American Heritage Dictionary 2009 usage note, also available at

Apr. 27 2010 04:41 PM

Twitter is underrated.

Apr. 27 2010 01:46 PM

Twitter is overrated.

Apr. 27 2010 01:45 PM
Patrick Smith

It is amazing how big twitter has gotten over the past 3 years or so. People send out about a million tweets a months. There is still a big portion of the population still does not use it.

Apr. 27 2010 12:27 PM
Ed Ovett from Florida - USA

Excellent report for those who just "don't get it!"

Apr. 25 2010 02:57 PM
JAFO from radioland

Twitter is for vacuous twits.

Apr. 25 2010 12:00 PM
Kate from here

Tweet-tweet. I did not here you say the obvious, that birds tweet about the same thing: food, mating, danger, weather, location. We are all just animals with the same set of needs and survival solutions.

Apr. 25 2010 11:19 AM
Ken Sobel from Connecticut

I think I heard in the story that there have been 5,000 tweets about the Toyota mess since March 22 or thereabouts. This was touted in the story as evidence of the usefulness of Twitter for helping businesses understand consumers.

There are, these days, about 50 million tweets a day, or more than a billion tweets since March 22.

Why is there so FEW tweets about Toyota's recalls (less than 1 in 200,000)? It seems to me this scarcity of tweets about Toyota is evidence of the USELESSNESS of twitter for helping Toyota understand its current and consumers potential.

Apr. 25 2010 10:37 AM
Richard Johnston from Upper West Side

I can't wait for Twitter to go public so I can start shorting the stock. Talk about a classic flash in the pan.

Apr. 25 2010 08:23 AM
Robert Galinsky from NYC

Loved the conference and this piece sums up the value of Twitter. Well done.

Apr. 24 2010 10:45 AM
Mark Phillips from WNYC Radio


You CAN download just an MP3 of the show - click on "download" near the top of our homepage (next to "stream"). A direct link is here -

For individual segments you can click on "download MP3" underneath the player.

We're working on making our website more convenient and user-friendly and in the meantime, we apologize.

Apr. 24 2010 10:37 AM
Clopha Deshotel from Bridgeport CT

Twitterpated is the origin of this? From Bambi...oh dear!

Apr. 24 2010 06:17 AM
mc from boston

This site sure is frustrating. Is it really the case that the only way to download a podcast is via itunes? I just need an mp3; can I get that on this site? RSS supports enclosures, so it shouldn't be a problem.

Apr. 23 2010 06:33 PM

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