Thursday, March 26, 2009

Speaking of Twitter

TwitterI’ll admit to having a kind of mild curiosity about Twitter -- that social networking-slash-“microblogging” whatchamacallit everybody is talking about these days. Or tweeting about.

Since I have much more than a mild curiosity about language and modes of expression, that means I am necessarily going to be interested in this new way of communicating so many of my friends seem to have taken up. I haven’t looked into it far enough to know exactly how it all works, but do get the general idea that one signs up for an account, starts publicizing one’s activities in brief missives not to exceed 140 characters, can limit one’s readership or broadcast to the world, can subscribe to others’ feeds and “follow” them, and so forth.

If I understand it correctly, Twitter kind of resembles the “status” part of Facebook where one enters a phrase that then appears as a kind of update of what one is doing at that moment. You know, “Shamus is at the keyboard again, typing up another blog post.”

Actually, the idea of trying to say it all in 140 characters reminds me of my favorite haiku:
To express oneself
In seventeen syllables
Is very diffi
One could say Twitter has had its tipping point here in the last couple of months, having hit the mainstream in such a way that now people everywhere are discussing it and, in some cases, starting to analyze its cultural significance.

For example, I read an op-ed piece a couple of weeks ago by Leonard Pitts, the syndicated columnist who writes about politics and culture for the Miami Herald, in which Pitts criticized the Twitter phenomenon as a reflection on the shallowness of our culture. Pitts made fun of various people, including some of his media colleagues, who have been using Twitter to report on what shoes they were wearing or that their flights had been delayed. “More people have more ways to reach more people than at any point in history,” says Pitts, “[b]ut it turns out... many of us don't have a whole lot to say.”

Saw more evidence that Twitter has “tipped” yesterday, as Iggy pointed us to a piece by Jay “WhoJedi” Newnum in the Indianapolis Poker Examiner titled “How Twitter is Changing the Face of Poker.” Newnum has been involved with the poker media for sometime now -- you might remember him from some Card Player articles or guest spots on the old PokerWire podcast.

Newnum’s article is thoughtful in its reporting on the fact that like most every other aspect of our culture, more and more poker people are Twittering these days, too. (The article contains a lengthy list of those folks, if yr interested.)

Newnum’s purpose isn’t just to report on this trend, but to say that “Twitter has an even deeper impact on the poker world” in its effect on tournament reporting. Now, rather than rely on select sites to obtain information about one’s favorite player, “you can follow your favorite player and get their specific updates in real time, straight from the source” -- if, that is, your favorite player has his or her Blackberry at the table and is regularly posting such info on Twitter.

“Will Twitter replace poker tournament reporting?” asks Newnum. His answer is no, but he remains convinced that henceforth Twitter will have its effect on how people follow tourneys, with some perhaps forgoing the regular live blog-type reporting in favor of other, more specific channels of info. “[W]ith huge events such as the upcoming World Series of Poker,” says Newnum, “[Twitter] allows readers the specific content that they desire without having to wade through updates that mean nothing to them.”

Funnily enough, my instinctive response to this argument and/or phenomenon is ambivalence. That is to say, it all sort of affects me like those updates certain readers don’t want to have to “wade through.” Still find it interesting, though.

If I thought about it long enough, I’d probably share some of Leonard Pitts’ misgivings about Twitter as a reflection of our culture’s shallowness. My complaint is different from Pitts’, though. I wouldn’t fret so much about what people are writing about on Twitter, but rather over the way Twitter makes it easier for us to narrow our communications with the world by not “following” that which doesn’t already interest us. How are we ever going to learn about anything new if we’ve already decided the great majority of the the world’s offerings “mean nothing” to us?

With regard to poker tournament reporting, real time reports from individuals are neat-o, for sure, but anyone who’s played in a poker tourney knows the individual has a very uncertain, incomplete perspective on the tournament as a whole. Thus even those reports aren’t going to cut it, lacking the needed context that the live blogs and chip count pages provide. Those are always incomplete, too, of course. But they give at least some perspective, and so Newnum is right about Twitter not replacing poker tourney reporting.

As curious as I am about Twitter, I guess I have another problem with it that is a bit more personal. Anyone who has read this blog before knows what I’m talking about.

I’m up to about 5,000 characters now. It would have taken me 36 “tweets” to have said all this!

Maybe I should set up a Twitter account and try to deliver synopses of these long posts? For the “tl dr” crowd? (Too long, didn’t read.) Here is what I could have written for today:

Iggy points to interesting article from WhoJedi about Twitter’s effect on poker tourney reporting. Jedi’s right, but regular reporting not going anywhere. Not yet.

Actually, that wasn’t so diffi.

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Blogger MacAnthony said...

I ragged on twitter for a long time before I finally (and recently) succumbed to it. TBH, It's been kind of nice being able to message friends from my phone without using my phone IM (I always forget to turn that on).

In terms of poker players, I've come to realize what a perfect service this is even for the casual players. It's easy enough for them to let their friends know about live games they are in or final tables on some online tourney. It's been a decent service.

As for benefits for you, there are lots of people that use it as just another means of advertising their posts. I know lots of people that just post the new blog post titles and often times, I see their twitter posts before I see it in my rss reader.

If you do create an account, let us all know. You were one the first people I looked for when I signed up for my account. Let me know if that changes

3/26/2009 11:39 AM  
Blogger Short-Stacked Shamus said...

Thx, Mac. I may well do it. Will let ya know.

3/26/2009 12:01 PM  
Blogger OhCaptain said...

It is very interesting how Twitter changes things and how it's used. I use it a lot of time to scream into the wind...and sometimes the wind screams back.

MacAnthony is correct about it being used similar to IM. There are many poker bloggers on there already it is used quite frequently as an open channel instant messanger.

I used it there other day because in the middle of writing a blog post, I just couldn't remember a word. With in minutes "sommelier" was tweeted back to me. I love my fake internet friends :-)

It's quite often a big, wide open chat room that you can connect and disconnect from at any time.

Blogging is great and I have no desire to jettison my blogs for the 140 character limit of Twitter, but I do really like Twitter for use on my phone. It's amazingly easy to use on an iPhone.

Let me know when you are up and should be able to find OhCaptain on Twitter.

3/26/2009 12:02 PM  
Anonymous Adam said...

Here is Annie Duke's Twitter page if you are interested.

3/26/2009 12:57 PM  
Blogger Dr. Pauly said...

I used Twitter last summer at the WSOP in a limited capacity. Not too many poker folks knew about it just yet. It was a nice compliment to my blog.

I'm still on the fence about Twitter. Some days I love it, other days I loathe it. Lots of static out there. Myself included.

Bottom line.... Twitter, like Facebook is a fad. It won't be making the same impact in 5 years. We'll be using some other sort of micro-blogging/new social media network.

3/26/2009 1:33 PM  
Blogger pokerpeaker said...

I use Twitter but I'm not a big fan. Here's the reason: I loved blogs because it got people writing, and to me, that was wonderful. So many people think they can't write when, in fact, they can, and not only that, it gave people a chance to get "published," in a way.

Now? Instead of blogging, people are sending out inane little blurbs about how they're having to wait in line instead of writing a funny story about it. There are already a lot of things killing the English language. Video games, chat lines, Facebook, etc., and Twitter is just another culprit.

3/26/2009 3:02 PM  
Blogger Gadzooks64 said...

I encouraged Columbo of the One Minute Mystery on the Ante Up podcast to Twitter his status during his WSOP event last summer.

It is easily the most convenient way to disseminate information to a lot of people at once.

I've been a fan of it for some time but will be the first to agree some people abuse it. It's as easy to unsubscribe as it is to subscribe. I wield that power mercilessly.

gadzooks64 on Twitter

3/26/2009 5:15 PM  
Anonymous Bronson said...

Thanks for this post, you have managed to highlight two nice articles which I have not yet read.

I agree that Twitter is still not for everyone. It depends on how it's used, but I agree that there are a lot of egos out there that are using it as a social status measure or worse, a list building excercise.

Also, thanks for dropping a link to Annie Duke's profile. I see Kid Poker, Daniel Negreanu, is also on Twitter now,

3/31/2009 5:31 AM  
Anonymous BJ Nemeth said...

I'm a big fan of Twitter, and see a lot of future there. Yes, even for poker reporting.

Twitter is just a tool, like a blog or a hammer or a nuclear submarine.

I think it is one of those things that is nearly impossible to understand without giving it a try, and it'll feel awkward at first. But I recommend that people start by "listening" at first, rather than "talking." Everything is opt-in, so if somebody bores you, stop following their feed. If you like someone's feed, check out the people that they follow, and that can lead you to new directions.

I completely disagree with your statement that it limits our circle of interest. In my experience, it greatly expands it.

P.S. -- Is it obvious that I just caught up on a couple of Shamus posts all at once? :)

4/02/2009 1:30 AM  
Blogger Short-Stacked Shamus said...

"I completely disagree with your statement that it limits our circle of interest. In my experience, it greatly expands it."

Yea, that claim was more theoretical than practical, actually, as occurred to me later on. Was thinking more generally of how the internet tends to work, with people finding favorite sites/places, then never looking elsewhere.

4/02/2009 7:54 AM  

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