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I Hate Twitter But Can’t Stop Using It

I thought IVP and Benchmark were crazy when they put $35 million into Twitter last month. I had tried out Twitter when it first came out and thought it was pretty lame and easy to ignore for several months at a time.

But after the latest investment round, I decided to give Twitter the benefit of the doubt and found several interesting things. The network effect has finally kicked in and it doesn’t feel like you’re shouting in an empty room anymore. It’s getting to be like that moment in time when somebody you knew from work invited you to be a friend on Facebook. I found it easy to add to the increasing cacophony.

But the actual service is remarkably difficult to use:

  • Twitter must go to a multi-column format. This will happen eventually because it’s impossible to read all the way across the screen as it is set up now. Did you ever wonder why magazines print in columns? It’s because it makes it easier to read.
  • If you’re following more than 100 people, it’s difficult to keep track of friends who do the majority of their posts from a different time zone.
  • Twitter lacks a good way of shortening URLs before a post is posted.
  • There’s no system of trackbacks to follow the “reply” conversations. Someone replied to one of my comments yesterday, but I had no idea which of the 83 things I posted she was referring to!
  • There’s no great Blackberry app to work from. Call me crazy, but the whole SMS thing doesn’t work for me as well as the Facebook blackberry app.
  • There’s no control of the growing barrage of spam followers.

The service is difficult to use and hard to read. Keeping track of the people I follow is difficult. I don’t like it at all, but I’m addicted.

Twitter is to blogging what blogging was to writing a real news story. It’s faster, smaller and the bar of expectations is lower. How brilliant can you be in 140 characters?

I’m reminded of something Steve Jurvetson told me over lunch several years ago: “Blogging is hard.” He’d dropped his “J-Curve” blog in favor of a Flickr stream, which was less work. That may be a big part of the appeal of Twitter.

I hope Twitter can keep its momentum because it has created something fundamentally different for content producers and consumers. If you’re thinking about getting more serious about using Twitter, try TweetDeck. It’s full of features that only power-users would want.

Twitter may not be worth your time, of course. But there are some interesting nuggets out there waiting to be unearthed:

SteveCase [former CEO of AOL]: Hard to watch: more AOL layoffs http://ow.ly/Omu

ML [Morten Lund, seed investor of Skype]: I have seen an Android (Google) phone today SO F~¤* cool u would die – all apple accessories compatible. It needs 750kEUR – r u investing?