That describes the number that appears, on the page called @timbray, with the label “followers”. I’m finding it kind of intimidating, and while I’m no more confident about What It All Means than I was when that number passed one thousand, I’ve been thinking about it more. Plus, I thought I’d throw in some Twittertainment.

Talking to Thousands · The number of “followers” you have obviously doesn’t equal the number of people reading your 140-character pearls of prose. Some of them aren’t real people, some of them don’t use Twitter any more, and even the ones who do aren’t online all the time, so they’re quite likely to miss anything I write.

Still, this number has made it entirely impossible for me to tweet things like “Cut myself shaving” or “Weather’s lovely” because it would be idiotic to impose that on maybe hundreds of people. It feels like each tweet has to have substance and balance and all that other stuff, just like I want for ongoing fragments.

I find that postings of the form “Here’s a way-cool link” have almost entirely migrated from here to Twitter; the medium better matches the message. So there will be fewer Tab Dump postings here, which is on balance a good thing, I think.

On the other hand, I tweet links to some but not all of my ongoing posts, without having a good mental model of why.

River · There’s one thing that’s become terribly clear to me: Twitter is inherently a river-of-news; when I come back to my computer after a while offline, I have no urge to look back at the missed tweets. If it’s important, it’ll come back.

Management Chain · @jimParkinson is my manager. @SrVerde is his manager. His manager is said to be on Twitter too but doesn’t publish his handle. @MrSun probably isn’t him.

Twittertainment · A conversation from May 2nd:

Tim: So, who are the people sitting in the cafes at every hour of day or night, not apparently working?

Doug Winter: NPCs.

Glen Campbell: That’d be Michael Arrington.

John Clingan: Yeah, they sit at the tables with power cords!

Dean Allen: This American Life 157: Secret Life of Daytime.

Matt Blodgett: SFGate: The mystery of the daytime idle: Why aren't you working?.

Brian Dear: Talking Heads wrote a song about that, I believe.

Vinay Augustine: ’Round me they tend to be retirees.

Ted Han: They’re 1st year college students :P That's what i did my freshman year. (record: 11 hrs hanging out in a coffee shop aptly named “Insomnia”)

Steve Holden: PHP programmers?

Paul Kedrosky: They are people awaiting further instructions. Didn’t you know?

From May 16:

Tim: Geeks shift from other langs to Ruby or Python, but very rarely from R to P or P to R. Thus, Ruby and Python are Geek Sinks.

Edward: Pretty wrong!

Bill Bumgarner: Only because they are effectively the same thing and, thus, there is no real motivation to move between.

Aurynn Shaw: Perl is still my first love, even though I have fallen into the dark Pythonic Abyss.

James Tauber: Agreed: Ruby is cool but the appeal isn’t great enough for me to switch from Python. If I didn’t know either, either would be great.

Emanuele “∞” Vulcano: Methinks Ruby’s on the side of Smalltalk, while Python veers a little into Perl territory at times. Just an overall feeling, though.

Thijs van der Vossen: No, there’s so little real difference between Ruby and Python that there’s no reason to shift from R to P or from P to R.

raminf: So that makes Python and Ruby the La Brea Tar Pits of our times? Or are they more like Hotel California? :-)

Gavin Bell: Was discussing building collective intelligence apps in python alongside our ruby apps today oddly, there is a call for both.

ceplm: Which is the reason I am sorry, you seem to be being lost to that other language (I like Python ;-))

Joe Cheng: People don't shift between Ruby and Python because you either grok lambdas/blocks or you don't ;)

Lennon Day-Reynolds: I was a pretty dedicated Python coder before I started coding in Ruby. That was 4-5 years ago, and I'm still mostly a Ruby guy.

Paul Smith: I switched from Ruby to Python, FWIW.

Elliot Murphy: I prefer python but have been teaching people ruby because the books were better.

Adam Endicott: I think that’s because Ruby and Python are equivalently “good”, so when one sucks them in, there’s no incentive to switch.

Laurent Sansonetti: R to P is impossible, unless you forgot to take medication.



Contributions

Comment feed for ongoing:Comments feed

From: Michael C. Harris (May 18 2008, at 16:20)

One of the most interesting things about Twitter is that it gives the follower a sense of the person they're following that's quite different from what might be gleaned from a blog. I feel like I can get to know people more on Twitter. There's a sense of intimacy, for want of a better word.

I don't think you need to worry so much about imposing 'idiotic' tweets on people, nor about each tweet being a pearl of wisdom. It's the balance that's important. At least that's my experience, being quite selective about who I follow. I don't know how people can follow 500+.

The one request I would have is that you identify which tweets point to posts of your own. I often follow your links, but I subscribe to your feed as well.

And thanks to Doug Winter for NPCs :)

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From: Ted Han (May 18 2008, at 22:02)

Tim, re figuring out twitter:

You do seem to have figured out one of the key aspects of twitter. The bite-sized quality of tweets lets you easily disseminate miscellaneous information in an appropriately miscellaneous fashion (yay no more tab-sweeps).

This is also the conclusion i have come to:

http://skein.tumblr.com/post/29941023 (although, as it turns out google reader now includes the ability to take notes, and i still use my tumblr).

Twitter i think is going to develop into something that is basically a model of what a large cross section of people are paying attention to at any given slice of time. The fact that it's persistent and searchable, and yet people treat it as a sort of throw-away medium allows for a very un-self-conscious repository for human thought.

Also, as time progresses people are going to begin to build apps which take advantage of the collective awareness of the twittersphere. Chirrup! ( http://singlecell.angryamoeba.co.uk/post/34671805 ) is a good example. It's a widget that will display any tweet directed at the blog's author that mentions that post's tinyurl. The great feature that it provides, is that anyone discussing the tinyurl will get trawled for display on the post's page, regardless of whether it was actually entered on the post's page or not. Magically you have a live feed for trackbacks, discussion, comments, sharing, whatever.

Twitter provides a lot of potential.

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From: Aristotle Pagaltzis (May 18 2008, at 21:14)

I agree with Michael: not only wouldn’t I mind mundane/inane tweets, I’d even welcome them, as long as they don’t constitute the bulk of your twittering. I didn’t join Twitter in a quest for profundity. :-)

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From: epc (May 18 2008, at 21:24)

Anyone expecting deep, meaningful statements in 140 bytes is expecting too much, you should feel free to twitter whatever you want no matter how mundane. People can always unsubscribe, er, "unfollow".

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From: Kfir Breger (May 19 2008, at 02:10)

The charm of twitter is in those "hmm, this donuts is really good" comments. It is not idiotic, it is actually the reason, at least for me, to follow someone on twitter.

Twitter, at least as I see it, is more of a way to share quick thoughts and reactions. It is a way to get to know peoples reaction without actually being there. There is a lot to be learned from that. Blog, email, and the good old telephone are all far better ways to read or hear about people who interest you, that for one reason or another you cannot be with. Twitter is, for me, a way to complete the picture, to hear all those little things otherwise deemed "unimportant" to be told over those mediums.

By all means Mr. Bray, please do twit when you cut yourself shaving, eat some bad fruit, or just saw a beautiful bird in the sky. Its exactly what twitter is for.

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