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I’ve spent a week without Twitter. “Big whoop” you may think; and I'm inclined to agree. I have not set out to prove anything to my readers, this was entirely a personal choice.

The thing is, I am concerned by how much it has affected me and I am equally concerned about me generating value for a company that gives me nothing worthwhile back in return. We crowd to these flavour-of-the-month websites, rag on about how awesome they are (belittling those who don’t understand the concept), generate a billion dollars (pinky to mouth) of value in the company, and then they sell to the suits and we all move on to the Next Big Thing™.

Where is my cut of the sale? Without our content, Twitter, Facebook &c. are empty and valueless. If I'm going to be contributing to someone’s value, I would rather that were a public benefit company such as Mozilla or the BBC.

But then, I'm not interested in making money out of Twitter either, I don’t link to my Twitter account from my website (think of all the “SEO” I'm missing out on :P) and I mainly use Twitter as a dumping ground for thoughts that would not fill up a blog post. Mostly rants and annoyances. It was, when I started out, a one-way thing, where I would send short poems and inspirational statements. A sort of notepad to capture thoughts because of the ease of being able to text with a phone content in which I can’t do with my own site.

I think Twitter has given me the opportunity to become too bossy, too arrogant, unforgiving and generally thoughtless. Without the reflective period to “think before I publish”, I have not found Twitter to be benefitting my personality.

But my main concern is really that the whole thing is beginning to turn sour already and I'm about ready to jump ship to the Next Big Thing™.

There was a time before “RT”, a time when I saw maybe one or two, and wondered what on earth “RT” stood for. I wasn’t part of the in-crowd, where such things are not explained to you, you just have to find them out. There was a time before “Retweet this” buttons on websites. Before we counted how many tweets something had. Even before there were hashtags. Simply put, the crowd spam has become too much.

The addition of lists now adds one more number on my page that measures my worth as a person by how much of a whore I am. What on earth have those numbers got to do with anything about the quality of my tweets content or the quality of my personality?

I am not a number. I am a free man.

Twitter is good in the sense that we can talk to one another in a rapid and gratifying way, but since when did one company have the monopoly on conversation? It’s not that I don’t value the people I follow on Twitter, it’s just that I don’t value Twitter itself. As nice as Twitter is, I'm not Twitter and you’re not Twitter either. Twitter is a brand, where there shouldn’t be a brand. All these Twitter clients and Twitter widgets and uses of the Twitter API just perpetuate a brand rather than a means of conversation.

There is no monopoly on e-mail. No one company holds the keys to the API, e-mail is not centralised. E-mail is a standard, e-mail is not a f•cking brand.

Speaking of e-mail, I've had an e-mail address since 1996. My e-mail address is displayed on my website, on every page, unobfuscated. Contacting me has always been easy. Twitter, of course, gives us the benefit of having a conversation in public, but I liken it more to shouting across the street at each other. You can’t really hold a lengthy conversation, just shout short sound bites. I have an idea for an elegant on top (but ugly under the hood) comment system for websites but I would need some help creating it. If you’re into the open ’Web, love PHP and optionally know about accessing and processing e-mails from within PHP, please contact me and we can start a conversation.

I cannot possibly advocate the open ’Web and Doing Things Right whilst I use a system intent on furthering a brand, inhibiting diversity and inhibiting the choice of which company you use on the Internet in order to have a conversation with somebody else. If Twitter truly cared one iota about the public benefit, then they would be seeking ways to increase interoperability, to increase participation from all parties, to present standards by which we can all communicate without Twitter too.


Now, apparently people enjoy following me on Twitter and what I say, and would be a bit bummed by my leaving, so I will deal you a compromise. I agree with Twitter’s principle, its concept—just not its particular implementation. I will continue to use Twitter, but it will return to a one-way thing as I started out. I will post to it, and I will read your replies, and I will reply to you; but I will no longer follow anybody. If you wish to engage me, simply mention me and I’m happy to talk. If you think something should be brought to my attention, then again, mention me in your tweet and I will pick it up.
For everything else, there’s e-mail.

Addendum

After a rough week, I decided that I managed to live fine without Twitter before it existed, and I’ll continue to be fine without it again. I can still follow people using their Twitter RSS feeds, and favourites items by bookmarking them—because that’s all Twitter basically is; RSS and hype. It’s the brand lock-in that I’m against.