Commentary

The Terrible New Twitter? Keep Calm And Tweet On, People

Maybe this rankles me because it seems particularly silly after a day spent watching seagulls fight over an apple, collecting hermit crabs, and browsing bookstores on Cape Cod – but, really? People are actually tied up in their underwear about a new little blue line on Twitter? One that actually manages to tie together previously hard-to-follow conversations on the platform?

You have no idea how badly I’m hoping that The New Yorker’s Matt Buchanan (@mattbuchanan) was kidding when he said that the new Twitter conversations feature is “a crime against reverse chronology” because it puts tweets from a conversation in the order in which they were posted, you know, like an actual conversation. If he wasn’t being cheeky, what the guy – and his fellow complainers – really need is to go catch a few hermit crabs to clear their heads.

But clear heads, in this case, aren’t necessarily prevailing. To wit, The Atlantic actually posted a whole story today containing tips on “Learning to Live with the Terrible New Twitter: A Two Step Program” as though Twitter users were suffering from halitosis, or maybe even something much more serious, like diabetes.

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Of course, reading the hand-wringing headlines about Twitter, sent me directly to Twitter, or more specifically Twitter.com, which along with mobile apps, are the only places where you can find the horrifying new Twitter conversations feature. (My favorite Twitter client, Tweetdeck, does not have it, yet.) And this is what I found: a conversation I could actually follow among @shivsingh, @noahmallin, @chrishogg and @philkinzler about how the concept of real-time marketing has been hijacked by one-offs like Oreo’s Super Bowl blackout ad. No more scrolling back and forth to follow a conversation; it’s all in the timeline.

It was absolutely, devastatingly horrible!

Since I actually could follow the conversation, instead of feeling like I’d walked midway into it, I actually thought about joining in. I didn’t, for reasons having to do with the immediate needs of a certain nine-year-old. However, making conversations on Twitter more comprehensible is the point. If we understand what is going on within a Twitter conversation, we are more likely to interact with it. And that’s a good thing for Twitter – and, one would think, Twitter users.

And the truth of the matter is that most of Twitter remains exactly the same, since most of Twitter consists of messages broadcast into the ether, that no one else believes merit a response. In the main, Twitter will still be the same disjointed series of messages it always has been. Keep calm and tweet on. No one will care about most of your tweets, but when they do, they will actually be able to figure out the context much more easily.

You have to admit, that’s a horrible thing.

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