Monday, August 17, 2009


In a study that brings us yet another Blinding Glimpse of the Obvious, an American research firm brings us the startling revelation that bout 40 percent of the messages sent on Twitter are "pointless babble."

The BBC has a story on the study here. The company, Pear Analytics, has posted its whitepaper here.

It's unfortunate that Pear doesn't provide examples of the kinds of Tweets they categorize -- especially in the context of "pointless babble." What is pointless to one, I've discovered, is meaningful to another, so to write off 40 percent of all tweets as pointless seems pointless in of itself. They ofer one example of a pointless tweet, "I'm eating a sandwich," but in the eight months I've been on Twitter, I've received only one such tweet, so it's not a good example. (I should note it was a turd tweet, someone talking about a bathroom visit. He was quickly expunged from the list of individuals I follow.)

This should come as no surprise: Mathew Robson makes an appearance in this report. You remember Mr. Robson, the 15-year-old Morgan Stanley Europe intern who got everyone aflutter over his ramblings on how teens us technology (I blogged about it here). Apparently it's an amazing find of Robson's that teens in general don't use Twitter because it costs too much. That's an odd thing to say about a free service, but apparently he was all worried about the cost of sending a tweet from a smartphone -- at a cost of texting, I suppose. I guess it's only us old folks who use desktop or laptop computers for such stuff.

Anyway, this report comes as no surprise to me. I'm fairly sure my 1,000-odd tweets contribute a fair amont to the "pointless babble" Pear identifies. Not that I mind. As I said earlier, one person's babble is another person's treasure. Which, I suppose, is why the Robson and Pear reports are getting people so wound up in the first place.

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