Twitter: Public or Personal?

My twitter handle is: @sunnyuf

I opened my twitter account just two days ago but we have the exact the same type of “microblogging” new media technology back in China, which I have an experience more than a year. It is called “mini-blog”. But the two–day experience I had on Twitter is of much difference.

There are several things I want to share about my Twitter experience. First, except for some creditable news media vehicles I followed like CNN and FOX, most of Tweets are personal opinions, even tweets from professionals. These information leaders are not necessarily sharing their personal lives, but even the information they disseminate is from personal standing and cannot be verified. Second, there is a language barrier on Twitter. Celebrities, professionals, and even official groups from another culture, they tweet in another language which I could not understand. Third and what I like most about Twitter is its instant updating property. With the mobile technology, users could have access to Twitter by anything with a screen and connection to the Internet. It is a great way to receive updating news and entertainment updates.

With so many researchers focusing on Twitter’s privacy issues and social networking or community attributes, I found Shepherd’s viewpoint is different and interesting. He is critical about Twitter’s attributes by arguing with OECD’s report. I have to agree with him on the “global village” issue. It is true that the network technologies diminished the geographic distance but it is never the “end of Geography”. People still tend to follow celebrities and news from their own countries or local areas. Though users have access to it, it does not mean they would follow and they have the ability to understand and communicate with people from another end of geography. And I also like his idea that Twitter is not the best place to develop public discourse. Like the YouTube community we had talked about earlier, Twitter is also a place for entertainment. That’s why Shepherd said it was celebrity-centered. Celebrities do free PR and self-branding and no matter the fans buy it or not, they entertain themselves through the process. Twitter is not developed for public discourse because that is not what users are going for. But Shepherd is a little bit aggressive on some points. Since Twitter is so popular, it does have the bright side. I like its functions like people can retweet things they like and tweet with a hyperlink to guide readers to information with more details. Users can also search information they are interested in.


September 18, 2010. Uncategorized.


  1. paulacunniffe replied:

    My experience of Twitter was that it isn’t completely celebrity-focused. I followed a news list and while there were some entertainment stories covered mostly the news organizations used Twitter to give followers news headlines. Then a follower could follow a link to the full story. With so many people on Twitter I think Shepherd’s viewpoint of celebrity obsession is a narrow one and doesn’t tell the full story. You can tell she doesn’t like Twitter!

  2. aflaten replied:

    I think you summed up the problem with the theory of the “global village” when you stated that some of the tweets you followed were in a language you couldn’t understand. I can allow for the idea that it is easier for people to connect with each other from around the world, but that doesn’t mean it’s any easier for us to understand one another.

    Still, as Paula mentioned above, I think the Twitter experience can vary quite remarkably from person to person. I honestly get next-to-no celebrity information on my feed whatsoever! It’s all journalism, social network news, video games, and 3rd-grade humor. Exactly how I like it!

  3. Wendy Brunner replied:

    I wholeheartedly agree with you all, especially about Shepherd’s somewhat hostile treatment of Twitter. It may be heavily celeberity-centric for some, but it’s definitely unique to the individual user. And while it may be easier for us to connect with one another–the global village, of course–I don’t see how Twitter can be anything more than a platform for very brief expression, certainly not discourse or dialogue. Even with all its faults YouTube is still a better platform for hearty debate… it, at least, lacks the 140 character restriction. I think of Twitter as the loud, annoying fan at a football game. Sure, you’re free to shout out a sentence or two about whatever you like. But in the sea of voices, who is going to hear you? Or take you seriously? Are you accomplishing anything? Making an argument? Or just purging whatever happens to be on your mind into the cacophony of other voices?

  4. Mindy McAdams replied:

    Ha ha, I like the idea that the celebrities “entertain themselves” by using Twitter to promote themselves.

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