Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Why are people following me on twitter?


A few months ago I created an account on twitter. Part of me justed wanted to try out the newest Web 2.0 thing everybody's crazy about, but I also got myself convinced to perceive a certain need as I was going to a wedding without my family and thought that this way I could keep them up to date on my whereabouts.

So basically, I posted a few tweets for about one weekend in German, and that was more or less it.

The funny thing is that after that weekend I got 3 followers, most of which didn't even speak German. By now, I have 10 followers, and I really don't think I deserve them. So why are the people subscribing to my feed?

Well, one person I know personally, and a few seem to follow me as I stated in my profile that I'm working on machine learning, but that still leaves about 5 people, and frankly, I don't even know how they even found my feed.

Anyway, I also haven't really yet understood what twitter could do for me. I'm not saying that it doesn't make sense at all. For example, I'm following Charles Nutter, one of the main guys working on jruby, and I found his tweets to be a nice way to track what he is doing and what he is working on.

In my case, however, it doesn't really work. I'm involved in so many things that people would get seriously confused if I wrote down every little bit (writing proposal/discussing with students/thinking about world-domination (muahahah)/reviewing a paper/fixing cron jobs). I could tweet about my research, but I'm not even sure if it would be wise if I told everybody what I'm working on, because either it doesn't work out, and then it could be kinda embarassing, or it actually works, and then I'm just giving other people ideas what to look into.

Lately, I've had kind of an insight: the penalty for subscribing to a low-volume twitter is quite small (apart from you loosing track of what the heck you're subscribed to). Some people have like ten thousand subscriptions. But if most of them don't post anything useful, everything's fine. And if you subscribe to somebody who posts a lot but you lose interest, you can get rid of him easily. So maybe everything's making sense.

Well, I'll be attending this years NIPS conference in December. An excellent opportunity to try twitter again ;)

2 comments:

SoloGen said...

welll ... the funny thing is that I was going to subscribe to your tweets just a minute ago, mainly because I intended to follow a few ML researchers and see what would happen.
I don't know if it will be useful at the end of the day.

Mikio Braun said...

Well, let's see. I'm not still decided whether I'll use twitter for private or official purposes... .

But I guess I'll use it more when I'll be at NIPS this year!