Is Twitter a waste of time?

Twitter user retention ratesDo you wonder about the value of twitter, either from a personal or a business point of view? If so, you’re likely among the 60% of Twitter users  (updated information here) who created an account, experimented briefly and then left it behind. If so, consider giving twitter a second chance. As part of a larger discussion about twitter and social activism - Can Twitter Lead People to the Streets - Howard Rheingold, lecturer at Stanford and U.C. Berkeley had this observation:

“As for Twitter, I’ve found that you have to learn how to make it add value rather than subtract hours from one’s day. Certainly, it affords narcissism and distraction. But it also makes possible the self-organization of the fluid forums that I learned (via Twitter) to call “personal learning networks

Rheingold’s idea of a personal learning network is nothing more than your own unique mix of followers and followed that you develop on Twitter and who become your personal community of “authoritative sources and credible co-learners “. The range of your community is only limited by the scope of your own interests, personal and professional.

Rheingold wrote a great primer for using Twitter to its full potential and to develop what he calls  Twitter Literacy:

One of the most important challenges posed by the real-time, ubiquitous, wireless, always-on, often alienating interwebs are the skills required for the use of media to be productive and to foster authentic interpersonal connection, rather than waste of time and attention on phony, banal, alienated pseudo-communication.

His message is really an appeal to common sense  – “tune” your network of people you follow, develop a judicious mix of personal banter as social glue and professional interaction that can provide real value, learn to recognize and offer authentic interaction -.  “successful use of Twitter means knowing how to tune the network of people you follow, and how to feed the network of people who follow you.”

Mainsail through time