Are RSS, Posterous/Tumblr and constant linking killing Twitter?

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Thumbnail image for twitter-logo.jpgBack in summer 2008 Twitter was very different place. Sure it was starting to grow massively both here and in the US, but it was still largely dominated by techy folk who were using micro blogging to gently make fun of each other, share injokes and swap cupcake recipes.

Then came the celebs, the BBC and ultimately a media frenzy and Twitter went mainstream.

There are some Tweeple who really miss those days. Twitter was their little secret. I think however that as Twitter has become more mainstream it has become a whole lot more compelling.

However there are whispers now and then that Twitter has lost something over the last year. And it isn’t anything to do with the number of people using the site, the celebs, the BBC or even the spammers. No it is the way that so many people are now using the site to share links or even (gosh) push their own content.

On one level people have always shared links on Twitter, but it does seem now that the links are starting to seriously compete with the number of posts which detail people’s lives. I looked half an hour a go and of the 20 tweets in my feed 13 were from people either plugging their own content or pointing me in the direction of something interesting.

There are two reasons why I think blog linking and promotion of content has shot through the roof.

1 Every blog now has an RSS feed on Twitter and its owners also encourage its readers to tweet about its content. Twitter has made it very easy blog owners to get a hot story to many people quickly. In some ways it has superseded story aggregators like Digg and Yahoo Buzz..

2 The services that have grown up around micro blogging are getting more popular. I don’t subscribe to the school of thought that believes that 140 charactars really are all the charactars you need. I am also a blogger who loves images and video. So blog services like Posterous and Typepad, which enable bloggers to make quick posts which then automatically show up on Twitter (and Facebook feeds) are something I am really passionate about.

Now, not everyone is happy about this. The other day a fellow Brit tech journo Will Head tweeted this

‘If I wanted to read your Posterous, I’d read your Posterous. Stop autospamming it to Twitter. Same for RSS. And Facebook. Is it raining?’

It is a fair opinion, but not one I agree with. For me the joy of Twitter is that it is one huge personalised RSS feed. You take all the people in the world that you find cool and interesting and then you get to see what they are reading. Everyone has a point of view and a right to share their content. That’s what makes it fascinating.

For me Twitter is at its worst when it is endless replies from people who are having conversations with other tweeters that you have no interest in or play no part in. In some ways now I find that a bit rude and self-centred. Also, and I know this is different for a lot of people, I personally am not especially interested in the minutiae of people’s lives. Sure tell me what music you are interested in share that you have been to some great restaurant, but you can keep your business breakfast to yourself.

So, in my ideal world, Twitter would be a lot more about links to blog posts, newspaper articles, stupid stuff on YouTube, surveys that tell me how addicted I am to the web etc. That’s what makes it special.

Besides if you think that someone is spamming you with too many links you know what you can do – hit that big button marked Unfollow.

Anyway – tell us what you think below

Ashley Norris