Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Social Network Distress

About a year ago I started to explore social networking. I decided to create a personal learning network. I didn't call it that, it just sort of happened. My network became as important to me as my friends and family in the real world.

It sounds strange, but it is true. Twitter became a way to connect with others sharing the good things that I found and collecting resources that my "Tweeps" thought were useful. I created a blog (obviously) but there really wasn't the feeling of connectedness there that I enjoy from Twitter.

I love Second Life, and I have made many new friends there, but Twitter is a faster way to connect with more people. Second Life takes a bit more time to get into, you can't just jump in and out and have anything meaningful happen there.

I have experimented in other social networks. Nings, Plurk, Pownce, and My Space, just to name a few. The problem then became that I had so many separate networks that there really was no way to keep up with them all. I started looking for a way to connect them so that I would have a way to communicate across networks. So I tried Ping.fm, Plaxo Pulse, and Jaiku, as well as a few others.

The only one service I care about is Twitter. It first, my exploration into other services was all experimental. Later, it was because I was unhappy with Twitter. It has taken me almost an entire year to develop my Twitter circle. It is a slow process connecting to others in a meaningful way, so I care about my group. Leaving them to go to another service is something I could not stand, unless they all came with me. It is the people that make the network, not the service. The problem is that Twitter is making me very upset.

The Fail Whale is kind of an inside joke with people who use Twitter. It is a happy blue whale being carried on strings by the cutest little birds. The whale only appears when Twitter is not working right. When you see the Fail Whale as a Twitter user, this is not a good thing, but it is not the only annoying problem that I have experienced.


In the good old days I could count on an "Older" text link at the bottom of the page to link me to more Twitter messages than would fit on one page. This was awesome because I didn't feel like I had to check Twitter 100 times a day to keep up with my network. Now it seems like the "Older" link is gone forever.

I used to be able to pull a trick to get around the missing "Older" link. I would add this suffix, ?page=2 to the end of the Twitter URL, http://twitter.com/home, so that it would look like this, http://twitter.com/home?page=2, Twitter would take you to the previous page of tweets and you could read the older posts from your network anyway. This made me feel super smart. You could even add a 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, or 10 to the end of the URL to visit even older posts. This trick will not work anymore. If you try it, Twitter just bounces you back to the main page.

I can no longer keep up with my "Tweeps." Between not being able to get on Twitter and not seeing any more than the first page of Tweets, I am not happy. I am can't give up, so I have started looking for a program or service that will make me feel like I am on top of all of the messages flying around.

Twhirl is a nice little program. It is small, sits on your desktop, and seems to get your Tweets pulled in nicely. But I think there is a limit to the number it will pull at one time. The best feature is also the most distracting. There is a little notification bubble that pops up whenever you get a message. I like this feature, but being the ADD poster child, I find that the constant stream of popping bubbles keeps me from doing other things like, oops! There goes one.

Tweetdeck is a program that I like, and with a recent update it says it will pull up the last 200 messages, but I don't believe it. The last tweet that was pulled in last night was at Tue 15 Jul 23:20, and my first one this morning was at Wed 16 Jul 04:57. I am not a math person but is Tweetdeck telling me that not one of my Twitter friends posted a tweet in over 5 hours? That is unbelievable to me. I have at least a couple of Twitter friends who live in Asia, and a few people I know are night owls. I am missing something!

No matter what I use to interact with my Twitter friends, I am not getting all of my Tweets.

Check out this article if you would like a more detailed breakdown between Tweetdeck and Twhirl.

Things have been moving lately with Twitter. Twitter recently acquired Summerize and they supposedly have more money and big names working for them. Great! Can they make it so I don't lose any Tweets? I feel like I can hardly leave my computer or I will miss the most important Twitter message ever. I don't know what it could be, maybe the newest Dr. Horrible episode is ready!

My real fear is that on my upcoming Disney vacation I will lose a whole week's worth of Tweets. The hotel we are staying at charges extra for Internet access. What year am I in? There is no reason to take the laptop. Ahhh! Did I say that?

If I try real hard I think I can post and read a few Tweets a day on my cell phone. What happens if I drop my phone on the trip? Am I risking suffering the agony of Delirium Tweetums?

1 comment:

rudyjazmar said...

Great post. I feel your pain about missing your tweets. I've had that same concern during my vacation time. I've not had the problem with a missing button for older pages and have spent much time trying to catch up on days worth of missed tweets. Even missing one day is a real pain. I still haven't set up my phone for keeping in touch. Maybe someday soon.