The other day a former student sent me a message. More accurately, I received the message that “[name of student] wants to keep up with you on Twitter.” I deleted it. I have nothing against the smart, hard-working student who caused the message to be sent. I have zero interest–I have negative interest–in keeping up with anyone or anyone keeping up with me on Twitter. This is not my inner Luddite emerging. No one I know and no one I want to know is so interesting that I care to consume their intermittant tweets. This spring I asked my Internet law students whether they used Twitter. Perhaps a quarter raised their hands. Most of them use it to keep up with news stories. I get that, but see no value in adding 140-character Twitter snippets to the stream of email alerts, RSS feeds, and other info sources I receive now. I understand why marketers embrace Twitter’s ability to connect them immediately to a dedicated and interested audience. I understand why celebrities tweet to their fawning fans. I do not see Twitter every being part of my communications arsenal. I don’t see the there there.
I’m not alone. I posted snarkily about Twitter’s mediocre retention rates–6 of every 10 new users stop using it after 30 days. I read yesterday “the median number of messages a Twitter user sends–ever– is one.” (emphasis original) Ten percent of Twitter users send 90% of the messages. The Harvard Business School study responsible for these findings concludes Twitter “resembles more of a one-way, one-to-many publishing service more than a two-way, peer-to-peer communication network.” Twitter is great for consumer companies, politicians, celebrities, content providers, or others with something to sell. It is not a revolutionary tool for communication by plain old folks.