Thursday, July 30, 2009

google v twitter

Twitter is doing something big, and we are still in the process of working out what. Even someone as technologically challenged as me felt that twitter the site was pretty basic - seriously undercoded - when I signed up. It feels like it's held together metaphorically with sticky tape. Bits like blocking and direct messaging still feel like they don’t work properly.

It took a few weeks for me to get the hang of what twitter can deliver. Yes, it does have narcissists wittering on about what they had for breakfast in 140 characters or fewer.

But as an information junkie I get high on the random apparent chaos and speed of information transfer on twitter.

It's a left-brain/right-brain thing: Google is left-brain - you ask your question and you get your hierarchy of links (all back-dated and checked and verified by the big G). With twitter, you make lots of connections with people who may share some of your interests - they post links to stuff you may have missed or not have known about: instead of a static one-off list you get something organic and evolving over time. It's like being in a fantastically stocked bookshop and browsing, you get these beautiful serendipitous connections. But you can search successfully for specifics as well.

News-wise I heard about Air France 447 on twitter first; the death of Michael Jackson; the Iranian election . . . and just days ago the Australian tsunami warning just 4 minutes after it was issued (as it did no damage it never even made the mainstream media in the UK)

Twitter trumps Google with real time searches; it’s interesting that the new twitter home page now makes this crystal clear. The previous homepage promised status updates to friends, family and colleagues - all gone now. Now when you’re on twitter you’re facing the world.

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