Arnold Kling  

Attention, Twits

Government Spending on Health ... Tyler Cowen on Macro (and me o...

Give your advice and help in the comments. I am now a twit. A newbie twit. I set up an account on twitter. David Henderson has one, too.

What should we do with these? Should we have some "follow me on twitter at ____" on this page?

My cell phone does not interface with twitter (or it could very well be that my brain does not interface with my cell phone), so I can only use my computer to tweet. Can I tweet from my Kindle, instead?

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COMMENTS (15 to date)

FWIW, I push my blog feed out to Twitter via TwitterFeed. It seems some folks like to be informed of posts that way and then they can click through to see the full content. (For the life of me I don't know why anyone prefers to follow blogs that way. RSS feeds to a reader seem the most sensible. But I'm tolerant and accommodating. To each his own.)

Ross writes:

Any cell phone can be used with twitter. If I recall correctly and if you set your account up with a cell phone number, anything you text to 40404 will show up as one of your tweets.

Also, just did a search on twitter and didn't find you. What is yours, and Mr. Henderson's, usernames?

Micke writes:

I'm sorry, but forget about Twitter. Stephen Fry is quite certainly the wittiest man alive. Not even he can produce interesting stuff with Twitter. The probability that anyone else should be able to is very close to zero.

Nothing to see here, folks. Move along!

roo writes:

Would you have any use for it besides announcing new blog entries?

Akshay writes:

This is heading towards information overload. I wonder how many people can actually keep up with reading about half a dozen blogs like yours and still live normal lives.

Besides, I've always thought of blogging for reading through ideas I don't have time to read books about, or to get a better selection of the kind of material I'd like to read. Can you really fit that kind of useful information in 140 characters?

dullgeek writes:

I think the twitics (twitter + critic?) are missing the point. IMHO, the big value of twitter comes from two things: search and aggregation. I spend a great deal of time on twitter with Search. I'm able to get a sense of what's going on in the world searching for topics that interest me. Additionally, I like the top 10 trends that twitter provides. Or you can use something like this:

What I think this means for people who tweet is that they do two things:

1) Tweet often. Whenever something strikes your fancy. But limit your tweets to things you think might interest others. No one needs to know that you're using the bathroom. No one needs to know you're eating dinner. But tweeting, "enjoying a great dinner at ___" is useful. This also means you really *NEED* to get mobile twitter working.

2) If you can't fit the information into a 140 chars, write it in a blog post and use a URL shortener to provide a link (e.g.,, etc).

Have any of you ever played the game, "Roller Coaster Tycoon"? One of the features is that you can click on any of the people in the park and tell what they're thinking. And the game aggregates those thoughts into a nice histogram to tell give you an idea of how your customers are reacting to what's going on. Twitter makes this sort of mind reading possible in the real world.

If I ran an amusement park, I'd pay cell companies to allow free access to twitter from the park. Then I'd advertise it everywhere. I wonder what other businesses would benefit from having greater insight into their customer's reactions, desires, etc.

Josh R writes:

The Roller Coaster Tycoon is a good analogy. I don't think most people get the value of twitter yet.. Most of the folks that use it don't quite get it. But you do...

It is an acceleration of the "Cluetrain Manifesto".

As far as the linking goes, I think a simple link to your twitter profile would suffice, although you can get little twitter gadgets that also show your last 5 or 10 tweets.

Anymore I think twitter drives blog traffic, not the other way around.

Arnold Kling writes:

My twitter id is ArnoldKling I think David's is DavidrHenderson

I have a hard time justifying Twitter in a world of comparative advantage. If my comparative advantage is not writing 140-character tweets, then why should I be writing them? If my mid-length essays are my best writing, why can't I rely on the market to find them?

dullgeek writes:

Dr Kling: IMHO, you can rely on the market to find them. I don't think it's a black or white kind of problem. I think twitter increases the ability of readers to find your stuff. Not using it doesn't prevent readers from finding it. The question comes down to whether the additional readers you get are worth the cost of composing 140 char tweets. IMHO, it is, but maybe not for you.

dullgeek writes:

Also, participating in twitter has its rewards beyond driving people to your blog. For instance:

1) Low commitment conversations w/people who are interested in the same things you're interested.

2) Getting informed of things you didn't know.

3) Getting to express positive/negative reactions to things w/some level of confidence that others will search for it and have it be useful.

IMHO, twitter has some similarities to open source software. As a coder, I contribute a tiny bit of code to a project, but I get in return the rest of the project customized for my needs. Of course there are free-riders, but generally it works. Twitter is the same way. I get to express my opinions, and in return I get a lot of other opinions back through search.

It's working for me. Maybe it won't forever, but for now I find it quite useful.

Johnny writes:

I am in the same boat as dullgeek. Twitter search is a big deal for me. Also, it's a great way to find new users. If there is someone who has economic interests, but isn't aware of this blog...Twitter would be a great way for them to find you and for you to find them.

By the way, please don't just put your RSS feed from this blog onto Twitter. Maybe you could post random thoughts that you don't post here.

Also, check out this Kottke post...

Nathan Sharfi writes:
I have a hard time justifying Twitter in a world of comparative advantage. If my comparative advantage is not writing 140-character tweets, then why should I be writing them?

Then don't tweet (often) I don't. Then again, most of my tweets are, well, banal autobiographical things spun to sound funny.

I'd also like to second Johnny's recommendation against duplicating your RSS feed in your Twitter stream; if we want every blog post you've made, we know where to find it.

Pete writes:

Let me join in recommending against linking your RSS feed. My Twitter main page gets cluttered by blogs simply showing me every post - this is why I have an RSS feed. I'd also like to agree with dullgeek that Twitter can, right now, direct people to your mid-level essays.

I enjoy when people Tweet with quotes and often do so myself; one sentence + a title (or shortened link) has lately provided some of my most interesting reading material. Twitter was also very useful during the NHL free agency period - 140 characters was the perfect length to report signings and rumors during a day when things were happening throughout the NHL. Not sure what non-sports-related scenarios would be similar but I found Twitter more useful that day than any other.

Dr. T writes:

"I am now a twit. A newbie twit."

Why? I cannot understand the appeal of twitter, a noxious melding of instant messaging and cell phone texting. It gets my vote for most anti-productive technology.

dullgeek writes:
"I think the twitics (twitter + critic?) are missing the point.... I spend a great deal of time on twitter with Search."

We have these things called web browsers that connect to a variety of search engines. Searching among twits does not give a representative view of peoples' current interests. Google is used by hundreds of times more people than Twitter.

Butch Howard writes:


For letting people know: 1) Post on your blog with your twitter user id and a link. 2) Use one of the twitter widgets (see the bottom of your twitter home page Goodies->Widgets-Profiles) to put a bit of html in the sidebar.

I also recommend against spewing notices of all of your blog posts to twitter. That is why we have RSS and Atom. However, the occaisonal tweet about a significant post on an especially important topic is not a bad idea.

You twitter timeline should compliment your blog posts in some way. Perhaps it will only be used when you are on a trip, at a convention, or in a seminar where one line notes as they occur are reasonable at the time. Everyone will understand that more complete thoughts and clarity will come when you revisit the topics later.

That is assuming you don't use it just to tweet about something completely different such as your cats, squids, the chewy goodness of the last chocolate chip cookie you ate, or the bacon you just taped to your cat.

But there is plenty of that clutter happening, so I hope you don't go there either.

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