Wednesday, June 24, 2009

On Twitter

Sooner or later, I feel I needed to share my thoughts about Twitter; since I have added some 1,000 or so followers in the past few days, this seems like a good time as any to speak up.

I have probably been using Twitter on and off for close to two years. From the start, I have had a love-hate relationship with the platform, for a variety of reasons. Initially it was largely a case of poor stability and reliability, then as Twitter made it into the mainstream, it seemed as if it was one too many communications channels – both inbound and outbound. As a result, I have a history of using Twitter in periodic bursts of activity, becoming disillusioned, swearing it off for awhile, then eventually poking my head back in to see if I should give it another test drive. If it sounds like a crazy process, I tried the same approach with classical music for several years and one day suddenly discovered I was in love. (Fortunately, I never took this approach to dating…)

In the last two months I have finally made my peace with Twitter. There is no longer any love or hate, but I think I have finally come to terms with how I would like to use this communications channel. The easy part is outbound communications, where I have decided to differentiate my Twitter posts from the blog by focusing on three areas, in descending order of importance (at least as I see it):

  1. ‘Retweeting’ commentary and analysis (largely but not entirely investment-related) that I believe deserves a wider audience
  2. Notifying readers of a new post up on VIX and More
  3. Offering impromptu comments about intraday market activity

For those who are interested in following me on Twitter, you can find me at Twitter.com/VIXandMore

From my perspective, the more difficult side of Twitter has always been inbound communications, where I prefer not to drink for the proverbial fire hose in real time. I have found that I can keep up with only 2-3 dozen of my favorite Twitter sources – and only for those who tweet no more than a few times per day. So while I get only a small slice of the Twitter community, I get quality input in real time. For the other 300 or so of my regular sources of information, I can always grab their RSS feeds via Google Reader or Bloglines and read the material at my leisure.

I have tried a variety of applications which I thought might significantly improve my Twitter experience, including TweetDeck and others, but none of these has revolutionized my Twitter experience. For my purposes, the best Twitter application I have used so far is Twitterfall, which I first heard about in Traders Atwitter Over New Apps from Theresa Carey’s excellent Investor Brain blog. Part of the reason I have become a Twitterfall fan is that I can use it to set up filters for keywords such as VIX and VXX – so I can scan the entire Twitterverse in real time to see what is being said about these subjects.

Going forward, I hope to continue to use Twitter as an extension of the blog, to highlight some interesting links as I happen upon them and to offer some intraday market commentary that is probably more appropriate for a microblogging platform than for posting in this space.

2 comments:

Evan said...

I basically feel the same way about twitter.. i am http://www.twitter.com/sellputs btw..
I used it quite a bit at first then my usage fell off. I felt as if i could not keep up with what was going on.. but what really turned me off for a while was the @replys changing function. I like seeing other peoples conversation it made me interested. Now twitter seems 2 be people all hawking things.. i joined because it was a diverse community which allowed you to communicate with people whom you would never get the chance was it not for twitter.

Tom D said...

Twitter is for twits. In an age of information overload from low quality sources, it is just one more such source.

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