For a while now, I have been thinking of writing a philisophical blog post on whether a year of Twitter usage has actually had a significant impact on my work life or the way how I generally use the internet. If you had asked me a few weeks ago, the answer would have been a definite: hardly any impact! The main impact has been that occasionally people on twitter point me to articles which I otherwise would not have read.
The reason for this is mainly that I am not a multi-tasker. I tend to single-mindedly work on one task at a time, and usually only have one (at most two) windows open on my desktop (I may have a few minimized though). For that reason, applications such as Tweetdeck do not appeal much to me. The same is true for RSS and news readers. Although I have these apps installed, I hardly ever use them.
If I didn’t have a Twitter client on my phone, I would probably have long given up on Twitter altogether. I have been using the GRAVITY twitter client for a year: typically on the way to or from work and sometimes at lunchtime. My usage of Twitter has thus been restricted to posting interesting snapshots and photos orchids taken with my phone, the odd patchy conversation, retweeting what other people found and tweeting the occasional announcement. Not much to build up a big following. Partly a consequence of using Twitter only at certain times of the day.
This started to change for me when I came across Layman’s Take on Gravity. I decided to try Gravity’s Google Reader and Facebook support. As a consequence I use Gravity now as the main tool to keep on top of news sources for work and also privately. I use Twitter and ,more often and keep on top of what is happening on forums and blogs that I otherwise would only check occasionally. I also more often tweet articles that I read, simply by pressing a button.
Before I did not do this often because the process was too inconvenient for a single-tasker like me: having to open twitter.com or Tweetdeck, shorten URLs, copy and paste the URL, etc. etc. is far too annoying, even if you have browser plug-ins. Many news sites on the web have widgets that integrate withT witter, Facebook, etc.: well, my consciousness filters them out like ads or I get annoyed when I click them and then have to log into another site before being able to do something.
The simple consequence is that because of Gravity I use Twitter more and that I keep on top of news (before I would check maybe once a week and then mark everything unread because I did not have enough time to check everything). In fact I am seeing clear signs of change with regards to my web usage patterns. What this shows is how powerful simple integration of social media can be. If it is simple to use, it even has the power of changing the usage habits of somebody as single minded as me. This means that projects such as the Social Mobile Framework can have a huge impact on the life and habits of mobile users. I will certainly watch what happens with such technologies in future.