Why Twitter?

Jeff Wasserman:

if you figure out exactly what the heezy you’re supposed to, like, DO with Twitter, please to let me know, sir.

I don’t know what you’re supposed to do with Twitter, but Twitter, for now, satisfies my need to publish tiny short-form pillbombs, small-caliber blasts of insight and sarcasm, but mostly sarcasm, the sorta stuff which – for reasons of length and content – I can’t get away with on my blog but which I have to get away with somewhere.

I do this for me, not you, not because I think I have anything you need, but because authoring content of all shapes and sizes is what I need.

Which is why I don’t follow anyoneExcept Zac Chase, who is my entire world for reasons too stupid and petty to recount. As much as I’m interested in the farty minutiae of everyone’s day-to-day, I don’t know that I have time for another timesucking feedreader right now. I have Twitter set to deliver any and all “@ddmeyer” replies, but I don’t have much interest in the TwittersphereOr whatever you people call it. Haven’t been around long enough to absorb the vernacular. beyond my front stoop.

What’s interesting about my specific purposing of Twitter (and what makes it worth even a passing mention on this blog) is that some folks find it inexplicable, even offensive. Perhaps my explanation above will render the conspiracy theories, hyperventilations, and picket lines moot, and I don’t want to generalize too much here, but this all seems a bit too weird, too rich in irony, to ignore.

I realize I’m already positioning myself as the obnoxious party guest at the Twitter Mansion, but here it is on the real: as with a hammer, a fax machine, or any other tool, I’m unobliged to a) Twitter, b) the community y’all have constructed around it, or especially c) the social norms and artifice you’ve invested in that community.

I’m just over here, in my own shed, banging away at some nails because I find the experience satisfying. Watch or don’t, but resenting my satisfaction because it isn’t yours, because this tool doesn’t apply identically to my life as it does yours, speaks precisely to my historic irritation with the School 2.0 sectarians.

I'm Dan and this is my blog. I'm a former high school math teacher and current head of teaching at Desmos. He / him. More here.


  1. I assume you read blogs. So you both author and acquire content in that form. Why is it you will take the time to author Twitter content yet not take the time to receive other’s “small caliber blasts of insight and sarcasm”?

    Not trying to convince you of anything…just curious.

  2. Fair question.

    I’m less interested in tweets than posts because posts tend towards self-containment while tweets often fragment across a bunch of @replies. Connecting those fragments together is just too much time for too little reward.


    the challenge and enjoyment I derive from Twitter, presently, is in composing complete (though necessarily simplistic) thoughts within the 140-character constraint. Maybe the novelty wears off.

  3. I find Twitter to be oddly entertaining but I only read tweets from my friends. I’m shocked and horrified when other people — people I don’t even know — want to read my tweets but whatever floats their boats.

  4. Today was the first day I read a twitter.

    First reaction: What the hell?

    Second reaction: This is like a blog blew a bunch of rails off the tank of dirty barroom toilet.

    Third reaction: Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

  5. It’s not the twittershere, it’s the the Tweet-o-verse. (heavy accent on the O preferably with an Irish brogue)

    It’s not lurking to follow w/o comment, it’s birdwatching.

    I’m so ANGRY you haven’t adopted my vocabulary.

    There is only one right way to use Twitter, just like there’s only one right way to teach or think.

    I’ll be sending you the manual and vocabulary one @ddmeyer tweet* at a time so you can get things right.

    *I personally find the word “tweet” really disgusting at a base emotional level (along the same lines as molding cat food). I’m not sure why.

  6. Speak not such blasphemy Scott.

    Reference tweets #3457b through #456667 entitled
    “The Laws of Titter: canon, lexicon, ethnography”

    Repent sinner or have your tweeting license revoked.

  7. I’ve not quite figured out the purpose of Twittering my every breath. I signed up for it preparing for the iPhone release… people were twittering line lengths at all the bay area stores. It was useful, it was somewhat entertaining while waiting in line, and that was it.

    At this point I follow a few people with Twitterific, primarily Bre Pettis (Make Magazine), Cali Lewis (GeekBrief.TV), Guy Kawasaki (Truemors), Robert Scoble (Scobleizer) and Dane Sanders (CutFrameTV) and a couple of friends.

    I haven’t received a life-changing tweet yet, not very hopeful to do so, but on occasion one will provide enough interest I will follow a link and find a few moments of diversion.

  8. I call it titter because it give me joy while making me nervous- thus I often all a titter about twitter.

    Why what were you thinking about?

    Besides Freud laughed like a man. Bellicose and deep like tolling bells (except when he was high). Now Jung, he laughed like twinkling bells. I don’t know if he did coke though.

  9. I’m not sure what Freud would say about the number of typos in my last comment but I know it wouldn’t be nice and it would likely involve some weird stuff about my mom.

  10. Loving the unapologetic nail-hammering approach, Dan.

    Snarky? Nah. Actually, quite sane from my vantage point.

    And if there are delicate-skinned 2.0 voices out there that will feel their feathers a bit ruffled by the newfound attention your tweets bring, so be it. It’s probably good for their backbone at the end of the day and a fine outlet for you on many fronts.

    I really do hope you keep it up with abandon for some time to come…

    [heads up: conversational gears about ready to change here]

    …but as to the “Which is why I don’t follow anyone” note in your post,…

    …I’m wondering why I actually received a message to my in-box a few few days ago saying that a Dan Meyer was in fact “following” my Twitter updates.

    Just curious.

    Even more so since I “tweet” as frequently these days as I tend to paw through Sears, Roebuck & Co catalogues from the mid-30’s, and therefore would seem to have very little conversational fodder to offer you in that 140c landscape.

    Or perhaps — he smiles — there is another Dan Meyer who has recently leaped with complete abandon onto the Twitter school bus (choice seat in very the back row, I’m assuming) during the same time period.



    P.S. And knowing that you are out there adding a bit of nail-banging sarcasm against the Twitter garden wall makes me consider sparking my 140c “tweet” habit up once again.

  11. P.P.S. Of course, since your Twitter page clearly lays out the “I’m only down with Zach…” premise, the aforementioned might seem a bit ‘off’.

    But I did receive the “following” message this week.

    Perhaps a bug in the 140c system.

    Or perhaps there was a quick re-think on the “following” game after the first shout-out’s went live.

  12. Dan, we all do different things with Twitter. I abuse it by trying to do drive by conversations (I know, I know, it’s not IM). I quit following you because I want a conversation, and you don’t (which you’re entitled to). I thought you were following me (I got an email saying you were. I guess you changed your mind. I’m touched that when you were considering following others, you choose me.

    But Christian, I do wonder is this some sort of “commitment” issue Dan has? I mean before I quit following Dan, there were lots of questions about commitment around marriage. Perhaps I over-analyze?

    Dan, I kind of wonder if Twitter is the wrong microblog for you for other reasons. You seem to be fond of visuals, and twitter sucks for that. I use tumblr for microblogging because it will take email/sms posting, but also images (example here: http://mizmercer.tumblr.com/post/24600049). And it doesn’t have comments, so you can throw down lightening bolts without worry about people leaving snarky comments like the one I put about commitment above. Also, davidville, which does it, is a mac shop (so the graphics are tip-top).

  13. One last thought….I left the same comment on Mark Ahlness’ blog:

    For me the best analogy I can give it’s a virtual staff room. You get to hang out with folks who will share personal, funny, strange,sarcastic, snarky and yes even educational. The value of spending time in the staffroom is to build relationships. Take a look at any staffroom and you can see all kinds. But in this case you build your own staff room. You choose who you want to hang around with. There are times when you get too busy and have to avoid the staff room. But the investment into people’s lives pays off. But I’ve been on staff’s where there are those who have no interest in forging these relationships. And that’s okay too. Besides, How else would I about the latest adventure of Beckett and his Dad?

  14. Look what you’ve gone and done, Dan. You’ve gone and forced me back into the dark side of the Twitterverse. Nice goin’, fella:
    http://thinklab.typepad.com/think_lab/2008/02/dan-made-me-do.html The grenades you throw into the mix better be worth my falling off the wagon.

    A. Mercer: I’m gonna let Dan volley back the “commitment” inquiry of yours. We fella-types tend to live in strange space when that word pops up (especially when women bring it up), and my gut feeling — plus conversations with Dan that back that instinct up — is that Dan is pretty smitten with his gal. Any summer camp love that makes it in the real world is the real thing. I wouldn’t make any connections between his impending wedding and the Tweet-Follow-Or-Not-To-Tweet-Follow concept. Word.

    Dean: Beckett sends his best your way, albeit with a bit of a rocky belly that seems akin to Old Faithful these days. Hope all is well up there on the other side of the border.

  15. Today was the first day I read a twitter.

    First reaction: What the hell?

    I’m still stuck on that one.

    That said, I probably shouldn’t read any more of them or I’ll end up romping down the road to blissful hypocrisy.

  16. I’ve been trying to like Twitter and find some real value … I really have. I use Flock as my browser, and Twitter is built right in. Very handy. So I try.

    I think if you can find people to follow who consistently “tweet” about helpful resources, etc., then it might be worthwhile. I never really know what to tweet. Every now and then, a blog post or notes on a presentation. But isn’t that what RSS is for?

    I’ll probably keep at it a bit longer, but the future is uncertain …

  17. “the more you abhor something the more attracted to you it becomes”

    Ain’t that the truest thing ever written.

    And FWIW to the thirty-some people who received notice I was following them: my bad. 100% ineptitude. Not worth getting into. If anyone followed me back out of some sense of reciprocity no hard feelings for un-following.

  18. I’m hoping that someone out there with a smidgen of graphic design skill (Ethan Bodnar???) might contemplate a little ‘side project’ to support all of us in the dy/dan gang.

    May I suggest uploading the following phrase over at CafePress to an old-skool, long-sleeved baseball t-shirt or even a hoodie that we could all order on-line:

    “@ddmeyer used to follow me…but he moved on.”

    Might also make a great bumper sticker to afix to one’s Mac, too.

  19. “the more you abhor something the more attracted to you it becomes”

    Kind of like that one person at the party who HATES cats. Whose lap, then, becomes Fluffy’s irresistible target? Yeah, yeah, we’ve all seen it go down. I’m surprised no one has offered up the time-honored dog/cat analogy. To whit:

    The cat-Twittterer: A noble, intelligent beast: aloof, independent, and capricious. Thinks big, super-serious, super-important thoughts. Refined taste in poetry—has a soft spot for the Romantics, but disdains Sandburg for getting that fog business all wrong. Meows in perfect iambic pentameter. Can be sweetly companionable and enjoys a nice belly-rub as much as anybody, but only if approached on own terms and if proper deference is shown (full prostration is recommended; respectful, eyes-averted bows are acceptable). May launch full-clawed sarcastic attack without warning. Follows no one and answers to no one but self.

    The dog-Twitterer: Friendly and loyal. Pack-oriented. Likes a nice belly-rub as much as anybody. Light-hearted and frisky, with boundless energy. Pragmatic and practical; a no-nonsense survivor. Barks in prose. Enjoys long walks on the beach, fetching sticks, and Snausage dinners. Will follow you to the ends of the earth. Constantly has nose to the ground, alert to possibilities and found treasures.

  20. This thread needs some culture. Suggested to my mind by Scott’s post. Billy Collins (former US Poet Laureate twice running) specializes in this kind of quirky fantastically funny/odd stuff.

    The Revenant by Billy Collins

    I am the dog you put to sleep,
    as you like to call the needle of oblivion,
    come back to tell you this simple thing:
    I never liked you–not one bit.

    When I licked your face,
    I thought of biting off your nose.
    When I watched you toweling yourself dry,
    I wanted to leap and unman you with a snap.

    I resented the way you moved,
    your lack of animal grace,
    the way you would sit in a chair and eat,
    a napkin on your lap, knife in your hand.

    I would have run away,
    but I was too weak, a trick you taught me
    while I was learning to sit and heel,
    and–greatest of insults–shake hands without a hand.

    I admit the sight of the leash
    would excite me
    but only because it meant I was about
    to smell things you had never touched.

    You do not want to believe this,
    but I have no reason to lie.
    I hated the car, the rubber toys,
    disliked your friends and, worse, your relatives.

    The jingling of my tags drove me mad.
    You always scratched me in the wrong place.
    All I ever wanted from you
    was food and fresh water in my metal bowls.

    While you slept, I watched you breathe
    as the moon rose in the sky.
    It took all my strength
    not to raise my head and howl.

    Now I am free of the collar,
    the yellow raincoat, monogrammed sweater,
    the absurdity of your lawn,
    and that is all you need to know about this place

    except what you already supposed
    and are glad it did not happen sooner–
    that everyone here can read and write,
    the dogs in poetry, the cats and the others in prose.

  21. Dan-sorry-I have no idea where it took the wrong turn into
    canine/feline discourse. And poetry.
    Let’s get back to snarking on twitter-focus people!