Monday, March 09, 2009

Life Has Three Speeds: Twitter, Google, Facebook

Farhad Manjoo -- who's been on fire the last few months covering the tech beat for Slate; if there's a popular technology or device you don't know about, he's got your primer -- finally gives Twitter a once-over, and instead of transparently making a pitch for followers like Julia Angwin's at the WSJ he decides to examine the comparison to two other pop technology tools, Facebook and Google.

After giving all the need to know info and background on twitter and the other tools there's not much time/space left to ruminate, but his main *idea* goes deeper than the usual here's-why-this-is-cool rhetoric.

See, everyone's in a tizzy over the prospect of twitter developing into a search-engine of immediate real-time response and news -- usually citing twitterers who broke news and pictures of the Hudson plane crash before any real news people got to the scene. But Majoo wonders if this is filling a void that doesn't exist:

That gets to a more fundamental question: How often does anyone need "real time" information on the Web? Yes, in the first few minutes after a plane has landed in the Hudson, Twitter might be the best place to find news. But its advantage is short-lived....

Google had a coherent story within hours; Twitter had a messy story within minutes. News junkies love the messy, fast story, but lots of us aren't news junkies. Lots of us are OK waiting an hour for coherence.

And I wonder the same thing, and the philosophy major in me is a little sad that he has to shortshrift the question born of us stealing fire from the tech gods: that being, how much speed do we really need?

Now cruising on the road of life, or evolution, it appears human beings have three gears: Twitter, Facebook, and Google.

Twitter is the fastest we can do. Something happens you can let the world know in the time it takes to type 140 characters or less. For those who like a moment to reflect, Facebook is fairly immediate but not as streamlined for REAL-TIME REACTION. And finally you have the "lumbering" google as your vast archive of the timely and timeless. These three tools/technologies developed will give us coverage on basically everything within the space-time continuum aside from the thoughts in our head (hmmm).

So now all that's left is to decide your cruising speed?


  1. Get on Twitter, TAN. Resistance is futile.

  2. I mostly use Twitter to triple-dip and create my Facebook status updates as well as running the Twitter feed in my blog sidebar. Get Twitter hooked up with your phone and you too will be sending the internet scintillating 140-character dispatches from the dentist's office or the subway.


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