Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Information Overload

I’ve been accused of being a techno-phobe, and I’ll admit that in some instances, the accusation may be deserved. Maybe. More often than not, I believe it’s simply a case of refusing to embrace the latest technology simply because it’s there. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not enamored with every new digital toy (and iteration of every new digital toy) that comes along. In fact, years ago… possibly even before the mainstream use of the Internet (gasp!)… a few colleagues and I formed the ATS Club (All Technology Sucks). While we’ve gone our separate ways, I’m still vice president in charge of membership, so lemme know when you need to join.

So from my “techno-phobe” soapbox, I’ll tell you that I haven’t fully embraced Twitter. The idea of answering “What are you doing right now?” to followers still begs the question “Who cares?” Granted, there have been some creative marketing uses of the platform, but there are volumes (and volumes and volumes to the Nth degree) of tweets that fall into and belong in that “Who cares?” category. If you disagree, listen in on the cell phone conversations of people around you. Blather? You betcha. Need-to-know information? Not a chance. I’d bet real money that the content on Twitter mirrors that same sort of information… again, with a few creative exceptions.

The Library of Congress announced recently that it’s going to archive every tweet (excluding the private ones) since Twitter’s inception in March 2006. From what I gather, most users didn’t even know they could make their tweets private until that announcement came along. As I figure it, that means the government is going to spend money (that would be your money and mine) to archive over four years’ worth of predominantly inane crap for all posterity. And I’ve been worried about paying for health care reform. Silly me.

One of the better uses I’ve heard about Twitter is a Korean barbeque truck announcing its location to followers. Folks know exactly when to head to the corner to grab lunch. Perfect. But do we really need to have an everlasting archive of “Corner of S. Broadway and W. 1st St at 11:55”? And that’s going to be followed by a non-private tweet from some guy who over-indulged on Korean barbeque and feels the need to share his gastrointestinal woes with his followers in 140-character announcements. Oh, we definitely want to keep those messages forever, don’t we? It’s times like this, boys and girls, when I believe we’ve lost our collective mind.

The really funny thing is that despite its raving popularity, the folks at Twitter are still trying to figure out how to make money. That’s right – millions of users without making a dime. Hard to imagine. Seems “popular” doesn’t necessarily mean “profitable.” Embedded ads are right around the corner… that much more to archive. Hopefully the Library of Congress has a really big server.