In which, against my better judgement, I publically admit that Jim Groom might be right

In our offices at DTLT we are all frequently victims of listening to each others’ diatribes against any number of forces threatening higher education, online community, and the world, in general. One of Jim Groom’s favorite topics to rail about is “Twitter is killing Blogging.”

(I could go look for a post on his blog to link that last sentence to, but, truth be told, the man is so prolific that a) it takes nine years for a search query to process on his blog and b) when you do get the results, invariably there are so many posts related to your search terms it takes nine years to find the one you’re looking for. I don’t have nine years, so I’m not going to try. Color me lazy.)

I frequently push back on his statement because a) have you seen the man’s Twitter stream? Talk about people who live in glass houses b) truthfully, Twitter has become *my* main form of staying on top of the pulse of my online network and I DON’T LIKE BEING CRITICIZED.

But I’m here to publicly acknowledge that Jim may have a point.

Sometime last fall I stopped using Google Reader. I’m not sure how it happened. Maybe it was when my iPod Touch died briefly (thanks, Graeme!) and so my Reader button got removed. I think it was more gradual, actually. Over time, I’d started to rely on Twitter to tell me when my contacts had written a new blog post. As time passed by I figured that I didn’t need Reader. I was seeing people’s posts. Maybe not ALL of them, but, frankly, what I was seeing was enough to keep my busy. Maybe, for me, Twitter was just a better way to stay on top of the blogs I read.

Bad, Martha. Bad, bad, Martha.

Last week, I finally re-opened Google Reader. I was scared to do so, actually. I thought it would yell at me (kind of like my fear of going to the dentist.) Actually, it was very kind and gentle. For most of the blogs I read the number of posts that were marked unread was actually pretty small. I’m not sure why. There was lots of stuff I hadn’t seen that wasn’t marked unread. But I didn’t complain.

I started picking through the list, visiting some sites I hadn’t been to in months. And I realized that Twitter was a very poor substitute for an RSS reader. I had missed whole topics of conversation. More importantly, I had missed almost *all conversation.* I guess it never occurred to me that although (some) people post to Twitter when they have a new blog post up, there are no tweets about comments. Duh.

So, I’m recommitting to my reader. And, hopefully, you’ll see more of me around your blog parts. And, Jim, you were kinda right.

7 thoughts on “In which, against my better judgement, I publically admit that Jim Groom might be right”

  1. And, Jim, you were kinda right.

    Say it again! More seriously, I have such an ambivalent relationship to twitter that I really don;t know what to say about it quite often. It is as unsearchable as my blog, and I always thought of it as a kinda conversational space, not a link generator and feed reader, but it has “become” that in some ways, but I think poorly. Twitter is a vacuum that has consumed some of the best conversation and reduced it to cheap, abbreviated tag lines, some may argue with me about that (but obviously not you now 🙂 ), but I can’t help but find it to be true. And the long term effects—it is 2 years later now—is that it has taken a sizable toll on the blogosphere, and I’m not sure it’s all that good a trend. But, I’m wrong here too, and many people will say how twitter saved their lives and all that, but I can;t help but think it is part of the total awareness initiative started by the CIA to control us all. Hey, you see that black helicopter circling above your house? They are watching you right now

  2. Martha’s experience largely mirrors my own–I hardly check my Google Reader any more because of the time I’m devoting to Twitter and the links coming through those little 140-character gems. Which is not to say that I think the information I’m getting from Twitter is better than that I would get from blogs. It’s just that I have only so much time to gather information from social networks (with the majority taken up by meetings, work projects, etc.) and at the moment Twitter has pushed ahead of blogs.

    In some ways, Twitter “satisfices” my need to stay on top of developments in my fields of interest (museums and digital humanities). Twitter is, in other words, an adequate if not necessarily optimal source for such information.

    Both have their places in the information ecology–one isn’t better than the other, but one (Twitter) may be starving the other (blogs) of some of the oxygen in the ecosystem. On the other hand, Jim, you should take some comfort that such ecosystems are largely self-correcting–when people start missing the information and deeper discussion made possible by blogs, they’ll go back to them (or something like them). I can’t see a world in which people will entirely give up all means of sharing complex opinions in favor of conversationless tweets.

    In fact, I best go check my own Google Reader.

  3. @Jim — I will never say it again. Never. Ever. I think. I don’t know. Twitter is still a critical component of my online existence. So much so that I no longer feel defensive when describing it to family and friends! But I do think that I’m missing something when I depend on it wholly to keep me tapped into my network.

    @edmj First, can I just say how awesome it is to have you comment on my blog!? Seriously, this world is too frickin’ small. But I also think you’re on to something in your description of this as somewhat cyclical (if that is a fair description of your comment.) There is something actually comfortingly naturalistic about that description. It gets at a kind of information “ecology” in the truest sense of the word. I love the idea that the network is self-correcting.

  4. I stopped reading my feedreader about 11 months ago when the daily grind of the semester took over. I figured I’d get caught up come summer. I didn’t. In the mean time, I continued to follow twitter hoping that it would provide a filter that was missing from my feedreader, and aware that it took less time than the latter to wade thru first thing in the morning. I know I’ve missed some interesting commentary, but I also avoided feeds that I felt compelled to read because they were on my reader even though I didn’t find them interesting. Perhaps the solution is to ruthlessly cull my feeds and get back to my reader.

  5. Glad you have seen the error of your ways 🙂
    Actually, it has been interesting to see the way readership for my site has changed. Even though I don’t blog a lot when I did I was never really comfortable with the idea of tweeting my new post, for whatever reason. And I know many people didn’t even realize I had blogged until much after the fact.
    Long live the feed reader! haha

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