Why I tweet

A year ago I considered Twitter silly. Why would I want to know your breakfast this morning? Who cares about your random thought on the bus? Not me.

Nothing has changed there. But I found tweeters who do something different: send me to places I would not otherwise have gone.

As of this morning, I’m following six dozen people. The common thread: they link to articles and stories I find consistently interesting. Some are bloggers, but most are not, so I wouldn’t otherwise see what they say. And most important: they are forced to sell me on their wares in 140 characters or less, so there’s no blathering. Presumably they appreciate the same from me. (Characters in this post so far: 685.)

For three months I’ve been doing the same. Each article or blog post that interests me gets tweeted, straight from my browser, with a click. One second to share my selections. That marginal cost is just small enough.

I love shared feeds in Google Reader for the same reason. In fact, I think shared items feeds do all of the above better than Twitter. I follow about 400 people’s shared items, and about the same number follow mine. I get a good chunk of my news and blog content from these ethereal sharers. I now spend less time reading specific blogs or newspapers. My average minute among shared items is so much more rewarding. And more diverse.

So why tweet and read tweets if shared items are so much better? Exclusive content. Twitter has people who share exclusively there, and thus for the moment I’m doing both. So my marginal cost of sharing is actually two seconds: one for sharing and another for the tweet.

So far it’s worth it.

Thinking of starting up? I love three things on my desktop: TweetDeck for following tweets. Google Reader for following posts. And the “share instantly” extension to my Chrome browser.