Remember when you tried to explain what email or the web was to your grandparents or maybe even your parents? It wasn’t easy to find the words to describe this new world without using words that would confuse more than teach them.
Back in 1994 I was discussing sports with my brother-in-law. As we finished I asked, “Hey, do you have an email address?” figuring maybe we’d keep in touch as I was planning a move to Seattle. I’ll never forget the look he gave me. It was a look of total confusion mixed with some derision and a little snobbery thrown in for good measure. It was as if I’d crossed the line of manliness transitioning from sports talk to geek speak.
Well, it feels like 1994 all over again when people ask me about Twitter. I’m running into the same looks of confusion and derision. Describing Twitter as “sort of like micro-blogging” carries with it a field full of land mines ready to take off a limb or two. “I don’t blog” or “Blogs are for people who can’t get enough of themselves” are two responses I’ve heard lately.
And that’s the problem. It’s nearly impossible to describe Twitter to someone without making them feel inadequate or making yourself sound self-obsessed. It’s not a product that catches people attention by description only. I’d go so far to say it doesn’t lend itself to demo very well either. Those expecting instant satisfaction will likely go away disappointed.
So going forward I’m not going to attempt to explain Twitter to my friends, coworkers for family. I’ll give them the address and maybe my feed and let them discover it on their own. It really is one of those products that takes some time to discover. For me, it’s worth the time investment. For others, it may not be, and that’s just fine.