Kingdom of the Non Sequitur

By Deane Barker on October 3, 2008

So, I’ve been on Twitter for two weeks now, and I really enjoy it. I treat it as a smaller blogging platform really — I post things to Twitter that wouldn’t really be entitled to a full-blown blog post, but that I want to talk about.

Example:

I’m sorry, but OpenOffice Writer is NOT as “just good as Word.” It’s free, and it’s functional, but it’s buggy and not nearly as polished.

That’s a complete, cogent thought. It’s a mini blog post. So it this:

I realized today that I’m now more comfortable in Google Doc spreadsheets than I am in Excel. The same is not true of Word…yet.

Again, this is (1) a complete thought that is self-contained and requires no outer context to understand, and (2) a thought that has some applicability to other people, even if they don’t know me.

But Twitter, I’ve learned, is the Kingdom of the Non Sequitur. It’s full of random thoughts about…stuff. To make sense of them, it helps to (1) know the person personally, or (2) have followed their tweets long enough to make some sense of a particular tweet in relation to others.

Perhaps I’m thinking about it too much, but the Non Sequiturs get frustrating after a while. There’s only so many people you can know or follow closely enough to understand what they mean when they post something like this:

Has anyone seen @brianoberkirch’s dongle?

What does this mean? I clicked through to Brian Oberkirch’s Twitter page, but there’s nothing there about a lost dongle.

So, perhaps Twitter is the Kingdom of the Inside Joke? Aaron is a smart guy and I’m sure he’s not actually looking for a dongle. Given that Brian wasn’t talking about one, I have to assume there’s an inside joke there that I’m not part of.

This is exacerbated by the fact that I get to listen to scraps of conversations I’m not part of. Aaron may have been directing that tweet to some social network shared with Brian (he has 2,341 followers, as of this writing). Since I follow Aaron, I get to overhear conversations he makes in that direction, even though I have no social basis with which to understand them.

But, at the end of the day, it’s about community. Even though I didn’t understand what Aaron was talking about, there’s some…comfort there. I follow Aaron’s blog, but there’s an immediacy of having twhirl spit out some random thought, odd as it may be.

I’ve always hated the “cyber cafe” metaphor of the Internet, but with Twitter, that’s more true than ever. Twitter is like the chat of 1997, but asynchronously, which turns out to be much more usable. With Twitter, I can turn and say something to a random group of people, in real-ish time, who have settled into some comfortable communication rhythm with me and others on a daily basis.

And perhaps that’s the point after all.

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Comments

  1. He did lose a dongle. And, although it is definitely fun to just say the word, there was a second part of that tweet that got cut when hitting enter actually posted. Very regrettable stuff.

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