The Twitter world was abuzz when Ashton Kutcher finally bested CNN in their duel to first reach 1 million followers. Then, of course, Twitter's servers had to work extra hard to keep up with the media-enabled crush of new Tweeters like me—soccer moms, book clubbers, yo-yo dieters and other curious folks wondering what this whole Twitter thing is all about.
The resulting "Oprah Effect" on Twitter's back-end operations caused a couple of issues for users. During my first six days, for instance, my profile page displayed just one icon out of the numerous people I was following: Professional golfer Stewart Cink.
Though I wasn't alone (Twitter's help page noted this kind of problem was pervasive), I felt as though it made me look some kind of a stalker of professional golfers named Stewart.
Anyway, before I continue with my early thoughts on Twitter, let me acknowledge something: Not too long ago, I was the cranky blogger writing headlines such as:
In "10 Things I Hate About Tech," number 5 was this gem: "Twitter. Tweet this: NOBODY REALLY CARES WHAT YOU ARE DOING RIGHT NOW!"
So what happened to me? Two Mondays ago, the higher-ups at my company politely informed the online editorial staff that we all should have Twitter accounts by week's end, and I like having food, clothing and shelter. (Feel free to call me whatever you please. I can take it. This week, several commenters called me a deragatory term that I haven't heard since high school.)
My next admission—my mea tweeta, if you will—probably won't surprise you: I like Twitter. I was excited at first, and a little overwhelmed—the tweets come fast and furious at times. It's hard to keep up with all the tweets. I felt pressured to read them all and click on the links. (Bad idea.)
But by the end of the first day I was using Twitter's TweetDeck application, which is very cool and quite helpful from a "visual organization" standpoint.
I can also see real value for my profession: the ability to listen to, query and interact with a vibrant community that cares about the same things I do (enterprise systems and ERP failures and ground-breaking SaaS rollouts and healing long-standing business-IT fractures).
I've also felt some unexpected anxiety over a couple of things: Should I automatically follow someone who follows me? (Seems impolite not to, though I'm still wading through that process.) Am I tweeting too much? Too little? Or not re-tweeting others' work enough, which is one of the more interesting aspects of Twitter? I also publicly tweeted something I had no desire to publicly tweet. (Yikes.)
Of course, it would hugely hypocritical of me to become one of those people blasting random 140-character non-sequiturs to the masses—the very Twitter user who I mercilessly ridiculed just a couple of months ago. Yeah, that's not me.