This is one of those "grouchy old man" posts in which I complain that the noobs are ruining the game. It should be read with a healthy skepticism and sympathy for the senile.
Noobs and marketing suits are ruining hashtag timelines for following conference news because the timeline looks more like my spam folder than the Atlantic. Create lists of the best Tweeters to keep your timelines clean and informative.
Social media is the democratization of publication but also of subscription.
Where I brag how cool I am and try to establish my credentials
I'm an early adopter, well beyond the cutting edge and more at the bleeding edge were it's not that you have to be careful because you might get cut, but rather are constantly bandaging all the wounds you're sustaining daily.
I've been tweeting at the ACR since before the ACR had a Twitter account. In Philly in 2009, I was tagging my posts with #ACR09. In the years since, Twitter has become more mainstream mostly for the better and because of this **I've met some great Rheumatologists and learned a lot. No question: the benefit has vastly outweighed the risks. **
Time to whine like a baby
But with the change has come problems. Many of the new Twitter users are not aware of basic internet and Twitter customs. They
#tag #every #single #word #with #hashtags. They
RT @ retweet so that instead of one tweet with a +100 retweet marker on it, you get 100 individual tweets in the timeline you have to scroll through.
They tag every single post with the meeting's hashtag, even when it has nothing to do with the meeting.1
They're new. They'll learn. But in the meantime, someone needs to be pantsed.
Success has also brought the vultures: the Brands, the "SEO gurus", the numerous "advocate groups", and everyone else vying for attention. You want to hear about the choice bits of scientific knowledge but in their mind their bit of spin is the important bits of scientific knowledge you must hear.
Patient's with RA have less fatigue on steroids?!?!?! Who knew?!?!?!? So awesome you did a double blind placebo controlled trial comparing steroids to nothing in RA. That's never been done before! /sarcasm
And then you even have the attention-seeking, self-appointed experts like myself going around whining in the official timeline2 that everyone is doing it wrong.
I remember being the only one tweeting about this meeting. Now it’s all social media spam.— Michael (@nuclearzenfire) November 9, 2012
Yes, the noobs, vultures, and jerks are ruining it. It is tempting to decide that the space is dead and flee to the suburbs, and in some ways I have. I've moved a lot of my social media activity over to App.net, a paid, gentrified social media site mostly for tech nerds. And yet, within the original structure of Twitter and social media is the very answer to the problem. Social media is the democratization of publication but also of subscription. I choose who I follow and what I see. 3 So while the official (and ridiculously chosen) hashtag #ACR2012 timeline looks worse than my spam folder, my cultivated ACR12 list is a clean bounty of useful information. I accomplished this by a slightly more difficult but far more rewarding technique of finding top-self Tweeters and putting them into a list. Instead of following a hashtag, I follow a list timeline of the best Tweeters.
In which I pretend to have an original solution
Lists are a great functionality of Twitter. Admittedly, I didn't originally understand their use and that was in large part probably due to the fact that I only followed a few people and the rarely used hashtags of the technocrati. Once my playground opened to the masses, the noise to signal ratio dropped radically.
Lists are useful when you want to see all the tweets from a select group of people in single timeline, especially when you may not want to be a regular follower of all of the people the rest of the time. Since I pick who I follow, I select for those with the humor, intelligence, and Twitter etiquette I like. No brands or SEO gurus can force themselves into my view.
This is still the original model of your main Twitter timeline. I feel silly that I missed this fact which is the very reason it was so successful to begin with. Getting back to the roots, if you will.
In which I abuse the Cheers metaphor
I view social media as a bar.4 I have no interest in listening to every drunk at the table tell me about their Area 51 conspiracy theories, or brushing off passes from over the hill barflies, or getting into and endless debates about politics. I certainly don't want some guy to pretend to be here for a friendly conversation and then well me about this great insurance product he "doesn't want me to miss out on."
I want to drink my yuppie local microbrew in peace, chat with old friends, and maybe, just maybe meet some new people. As long as the bar is mostly regulars who behave within the social norms, it's my kind of place. When they install a mirror ball and a karaoke machine, I'm out. As far as how to meet the new folks, I'll let the other regulars in the bar pre-screen them. After I see a few retweets that valuable, I'll add them to the list.
All 50,000 attendees don't need to know you're going shopping at Nordstrom's after the plenary session. ↩
On review, I've not actually complained in the official timeline, but close enough. I'm a jerk. And many others have. ↩
With the important exception of advertisements, which is one of the reasons the tech nerds are so wary of recent policy changes at Twitter. ↩
Others prefer the water cooler analogy, but that seems even more sad. ↩