The Usefulness Of Twitter

Ok, I’ll admit that I was a bit unsure of the actual usefulness of Twitter, but a couple months ago I figured I’d give it another shot, and it’s been growing on me. The first thing about it that struck me was how incredible it was to follow the Iowa caucuses via Twitter. People who were actually taking part in the caucuses were reporting in real-time on what was being said in the caucuses, and it made it clear that there was a real groundswell of support for Obama. What was most amazing was contrasting that to CNN, which reported a statistical dead heat between the three leading candidates quite late into the night, before Obama’s sizable lead emerged. Yet, watching the real-time reports via Twitter, it seemed clear that there was strong Obama support. That’s only one data point, but it was kind of neat.

Now, a second useful Twitter example. I’m not sure how long ago, but a while back I became an email acquaintance with Whitney McNamara. I’m not sure when/how it happened. I think he may have commented on Techdirt a few times with pretty intelligent thoughts, or maybe sent in some stories/feedback. Just a couple weeks ago, he started following me on Twitter, and I started following him as well. Last week, he mentioned that he was going to Mamoun’s Falafel for lunch with his Dad, which set off a wave of nostalgia for me. I love Mamoun’s. Back in high school, Yuval and I used to go visit record stores in the Village and get Mamoun’s for lunch. It was a pretty regular ritual. I do still try to go to Mamoun’s whenever I’m in Manhattan, though it’s increasingly rare that I need to be anywhere near the Village.

Yet, when I saw Whit’s Twitter about Mamoun’s, I wrote my own about my Mamoun’s obsession, noting that I was hoping to go this week, since I was in NYC. A few twitters/direct messages back and forth, and yesterday, we were sitting in Mamoun’s enjoying the best falafel sandwiches money can buy and having an interesting conversation about online communities. It worked out perfectly, as I had a hole in my schedule and no lunch plans. Here’s his version of the story as well. It’s pretty clear that this never would have happened without Twitter.

Without Twitter, I probably wouldn’t have remembered that he was in NY, thought to get together with him, known that he liked Mamoun’s (or even convinced myself to make a trip down to Mamoun’s). So, while I’m still not totally convinced that Twitter is as amazing as some make it out to be, I’m beginning to understand the areas where it has potential.

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