Misunderstanding Twitter

I am writing this on my phone in a Hailo cab in London so forgive the typos and lack of links. I will clean this up later.

On the flight over from Brussels I read the International Herald Tribune. In today’s copy was an opinion piece by Joe Nocera where he explained why he doesn’t like (and doesn’t use) Twitter. The piece is here http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/16/opinion/nocera-a-case-against-twitter.html.

His two basic complaints are the short bursty nature of the discourse and the hate that is spewed at him on the service.

I cannot argue with either observation at face value but when you dig deeper his arguments come up empty for me.

First as to the bursty nature of Twitter, I would argue that is what makes Twitter so great. But Twitter is more like the old stock and news tickers that ran headlines all day long. We still have long form discourse but you have to click on the links and leave Twitter to get to it. You can come back and react on Twitter but honestly the better discussions often happen in the comment threads like the one here at AVC or on Reddit or Hacker News.

As to the issue of hate spewing, that is an issue with all open social platforms. I have experienced people taking aim at me on Twitter, but also on blogs, and in communities around the web. Many traditional journalists have been somewhat protected by the closed nature of their publications. The hating that is aimed at them has mostly happened offline so its not in their face. When it hits them in their face they are shocked.

I’ve gotten used to it. Some people don’t like me or what I say and write That is a good thing. Getting sucked up to is way worse and trust me I get plenty of that too.

So my reaction to Joe’s piece on Twitter is he should dive in, get involved, and see why it has become the open communication channel of this century.


Comments (Archived):

  1. Carl Rahn Griffith

    A wholly-new communications channel rarely comes our way. Some find this unsettling.I’m not saying it is his issue, but for too long too many journalists have become pseudo-academics preaching from their ivory towers to the ignorant masses. Passivity is dying. Proactivity is enabling many to think more. To create. To question. The ‘old guard’ doesn’t like this.Hope you’re enjoying the great weather over here, Fred! Safe travels.

    1. John Revay

      I am away this week – on our church’s youth group mission – essentially doing clean up work / painting etc.I getting to know know another dad on the trip from our church, he is a traditional journalist – Print/TV type person – I mentioned how great it was that every thing was “opening up” – twitter etc. I did not get the sense he was excited about it – although he said that he is active reading twitter and many blogs.

    2. fredwilson

      the weather is fabulous

    3. ShanaC

      Journalism has a long history of that or being highly yellow.Blogging is starting to too – what’s old is new again

  2. Sheamus

    Twitter?Smartphones?Mobile?Blogs?The internet?Computers?Television?Cinema?Radio?The telephone?Print?Writing?Cave paintings?”Are you mad? That’ll *never* take off!”

    1. laurie kalmanson

      telegraphyspaceshipsrobotsflying cars

      1. falicon


    2. ShanaC


  3. jason wright

    sucking up to a venture capitalist? repulsive behavior.

    1. fredwilson

      common behavior

      1. pointsnfigures

        Until they get the check

        1. jason wright

          so it works?until they get diluted ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. JimHirshfield

    I think I’m as interested in reading his piece on Twitter as he is on reading my piece on why I don’t subscribe to print newspapers anymore.

    1. Carl Rahn Griffith

      Lol ๐Ÿ˜‰

      1. pointsnfigures


    2. William Mougayar

      I’m going to “force you” to read it. The comments he gets are hilarious. Here:http://www.nytimes.com/2013…Try to get an article behind the “firewall” on the Financial Times. Oh my God….It’s like they don’t want you to read it online. The hoops I had to jump through to re-activate my (free) account.Herald isn’t too bad, comparatively speaking. They have some affiliation with the NY Times.

      1. Anne Libby

        Sad to say, I don’t read FT any more, precisely for this reason…

        1. baba12

          after I finished my free subscriptions and exhausted all my miles on it I now don’t read it and I still manage to be aware of the crooked ways of the financial industry :)…

      2. ShanaC

        why the pain – and nytimes is totally cracking down. And I’m debating getting a subscription as a result

        1. laurie kalmanson

          i pay for the nyt … i used to have the actual sunday paper delivered to the door.

        2. baba12

          get a plugin for Chrome and you will be fine

    3. JimHirshfield

      Hang on, lemme Tweet that…….OK, all set.

    4. Aaron Klein


      1. JimHirshfield

        HA!! OMG! ROFLMAO(Joe Nocero taught me those acronyms, FTW)

      2. laurie kalmanson

        u win the internets today

      3. laurie kalmanson

        i hear you can send ship to ship marconigrams now

      4. Sean Hull

        lol priceless!

      5. JamesHRH

        That is the best comment I have ever seen on the Internet.

        1. Aaron Klein

          That’s kind, sir.

      6. baba12

        Telegram services finally shut down after 163 years end in India this last sunday http://goo.gl/9h67PTwitter has it’s benefits and it also has some negatives and possible repercussions for the society growing up with it, in terms of how grammar and language may change. Is it right or wrong is debatable. In the end if it helps in having better communications then that would be great, that so far I don’t think is happening.One of the hopes of the internets has been to provide a way to address the inequalities that exist in society be it in education or healthcare or transparency in the government and private sector.We have still ways to go and maybe short succinct 140 characters may play a role in that…

    5. howardlindzon


    6. ShanaC

      sadly, I might start, since it is still cheaper than digital (why is that)

      1. JimHirshfield

        Are you sure about that? We pay $7/month I think for digital subscription.

        1. ShanaC

          print at its lowest is $3.40/wkhttps://nytimesathome.com/h…Digital is $3.75 a week, and you get more access with the printhttp://www.nytimes.com/cont…(also, depressing to know this)

    7. LE

      “on why I don’t subscribe to print newspapers anymore.”I still subscribe to print editions of WSJ and NYT (weekend only). As I’ve mentioned I also watch the NBC nightly news on DVR generally.I find it helpful to know about what the people who read and watch the news are seeing and reading (front page, positioning) as well as advertisers. Not to mention that being able to manipulate the press (something I’ve done on multiple occasions is a useful skill to have.) For that matter I also scan through my wife’s journals and anything else I can get my hands on printed (mail and catalogs which I get that are directed toward other offices that end up in my office by mistake). I also listen to other people’s conversations and frequently strike up conversations (I’m not a particularly friendly person at all I just do it as research curiosity into how people think and act. I rarely talk w/o purpose.). Back when I was growing up I used to pour through all the magazines in my father’s office while I was eating lunch. I learned quite a bit doing that. It’s not hard work for me to do any of this. I’m curious about everyday things and love behind the scenes processes and figuring out what makes people tick.

      1. JimHirshfield

        I think you just outline the prerequisites to working at the NSA.

        1. CJ

          I should apply then as I exhibit much the same behaviors. LOL

      2. Donna Brewington White

        You are describing my general nature to a great extent. The type of kid who read every word on the cereal box during breakfast and learned about the human reproductive system (among other things) at age 9 by reading all the brochures in the lobby at the doctor’s office. I make no apologies for being an ardent eavesdropper. Such fun. But I can’t help wondering how you find time to do all this reading! How!? I was an avid voracious reader until about the 3rd child which is also when I first became self-employed. Both changed my reading life.

        1. LE

          “But I can’t help wondering how you find time to do all this reading! How!?”I don’t watch any sports at all. (I exercise obviously because there is a value to that.)And I spend only a nominal amount of time on “social” things.So all that time others spending thinking about and watching sports I am thinking about business which to me is a form of entertainment.Note also the difference in your reply to what I said and Jim’s. Jim made a joke you made an intelligent reply. I was raised in a serious environment where joking was frowned upon (not saying that’s right just noting). I didn’t even know how funny I was until later on. But I still resist joking to this day. That said the people who survived the concentration camps were the people who had skills and could work hard and knew how to work the system and people. Not the social entertainers and people who were lazy. I guess that’s baked in me.

    8. charlie

      Ouch! Nothing zings like old man white on white violence!

  5. pointsnfigures

    An executive back when Twitter started put it succinctly in Barron’s. He said something like, “Twitter is a river of information. You dip your cup in. If you don’t like what you found, dump it out and dip it in again.”. That’s when it hit me that it was all about who you follow.Fred is correct about journalists. Most of the ones I know use twitter as a megaphone. When you shout, people shout back. Most journalists also see themselves in an ivory tower writing for the masses. Marie Antoinette like. We are finding we don’t need them since they (as a group) aren’t really adding value to discourse. They also aren’t informing us. They have agendas.At the University of Chicago when a professor presents a paper-all professors from all parts of academia are invited to come and participate. I hear it becomes blood sport with the debate and criticism back and forth. It’s so brutal, professors from other universities are intimidated to present there-since the standard is to be quiet, keep your contrarian thoughts to yourself and applaud.However, without that brutal style of debate-we wouldn’t have things like Coase Theorem.

    1. laurie kalmanson

      U of C represent. Harris School alum here. See also latkes vs. hamentashen, which spoofs all that.http://en.wikipedia.org/wik…Latkeโ€“Hamantash DebateFrom Wikipedia, the free encyclopediaThe Latke-Hamantash Debate is a humorous academic debate about the relative merits and meanings of these two items of Jewish cuisine. The debate originated at the University of Chicago in 1946[1] and has since been held annually. <snip>Participants in the debate, held within the format of a symposium, have included past University of Chicago president Hanna Holborn Gray, philosopher Martha Nussbaum, Nobel Prize winners Milton Friedman and Leon M. Lederman, and essayist Allan Bloom. A compendium of the debate, which has never been won, was published in 2005.[7]

      1. ShanaC

        there are a number of people who are Maroons here (including me!!!!)

        1. laurie kalmanson

          tear down a football stadium, build a library

    2. ShanaC

      But that is what makes U of C so much fun – geez the blood sport part is the best

      1. pointsnfigures

        They have football again. I wasn’t geeky enough to do undergrad there, but did get my MBA there. They have a beautiful athletic complex with a great pool now. Really good dorms too. Maybe I should have gone there.

        1. ShanaC

          i knew people on the team. And yes, the pool at ratner is gorgeous and nicely heated(I lived in an ehh dorm, but they were fabulous for different reasons :))Also laurie kalmansonhttps://www.facebook.com/gr…

        2. Anne Libby

          Depends on your era — the pools were kind of gnarly when I was an undergrad.

  6. panterosa,

    “Getting sucked up to is way worse”So glad you call this out. Lots of people desire success or fabulousness precisely so people will suck up to them, not realizing how creepy, dull, and sad it is to have people grovel in adulation, motives often in question. It’s convenient to have enough influence to get things done, it’s great to not always be the smartest one in the room. It’s healthiest to have people challenge you. Once they don’t question you anymore, on twitter or elsewhere, is when you have ceased to hear the whole story, and then your story will become the skewed stuff emitted from a protected bubble and you cease to be relevant.Be approachable, it is the thread connecting you to reality and the universe.

    1. Anne Libby

      Yes. I love your conclusion. Broadcast is a barrier, it’s a place to hide. Engagement is that thread connecting you to reality.

    2. fredwilson

      it happens right here in the comments at AVC all the time

      1. panterosa,

        Doesn’t that bum you out?I’m not a fan of seeing it either.

        1. fredwilson

          It does

      2. Donna Brewington White

        You do have fans here. But I’ve noticed that some of your most loyal fans are at times your most constructive critics. One of the things that at first most attracted me to AVC.

  7. William Mougayar

    Here’s the link: http://www.nytimes.com/2013…That piece, like the HT’s old media model is old in its message, and reminds me of something nay sayers were writing about Twitter 2-3 years ago.Joe doesn’t understand Twitter, judging by his simple description of it “I understand the case for Twitter; I really do. It can be used to spread knowledge by sharing photos or articles youโ€™ve been impressed with.”And he catches himself saying later “I acknowledge Iโ€™m at the age (46) where Iโ€™m losing the battle to keep up with technology โ€” the negatives outweigh the positives.”I think it’s too late to save Joe and make him understand Twitter. Too bad he’s only 46 and admitted his limitations. If he was a lot older, I might understand.What he has failed to understand is not what Twitter does, but it’s what Twitter enables. Twitter is not 140-characters. Twitter is about what it ENABLES…connections, spontaneity, real-time, expressions, shortening distances, finding affinities, discovering viewpoints, etc.. Knowledge is only one part of it.[Correction: Joe Nocera, the writer is 61. The ‘other Joe’ who was being ridiculed was 46. Still, being 61 is not an excuse for not really understanding Twitter.]

    1. Anne Libby

      My mom “gets” Twitter. And she’s not 46 any more.

      1. William Mougayar

        Actually, Joe the writer is 61. Correction. But still, my point and yours hold.

        1. Anne Libby

          Yes. (Mom is also no longer 61.) Have a great day.

          1. William Mougayar


          2. laurie kalmanson

            my daughter’s school uses google drive for a lot of team work projects; sometimes when the kids are working at my house, my daughter will call me over to help someone not quite getting iti am hopeful that a metaphor of, “the internet? my mom can help u with that” will grow

          3. Anne Libby

            Go, Laurie!Both of my parents are tech savvy. My dad was in tech when it was called “Data Processing, ” and we grew up coloring on punch cards and the backside of that green and white paper that mainframes used to spew. Today, Mom’s the family go-to person when we’re stumped by trying to find something online. Dad plays bridge online. The grandkids see this, and take it as a fact of life….

          4. laurie kalmanson

            ++++ green and white striped paper ++++——————————————————————————————————–

      2. laurie kalmanson

        i’m a mom ๐Ÿ˜‰

        1. Cam MacRae

          Ugh. That moment when you discover your bias/ignorance/idiocy is giddy-giddy gout; For years I’ve assumed you were a bloke by default.

          1. laurie kalmanson

            ha, in what ways?growing up, i was confused when a character in “little women,” named “laurie” appeared to be a dude.

          2. Cam MacRae

            All the Lauries I know are men, which explains my bias for the most part. Ratio of sexes in the comments probably explains the rest. Oddly enough, the Mighty Atom avatar didn’t come in to it.

          3. laurie kalmanson

            culture is what culture isleslie is mostly female here, but not so always elsewhere

          4. Cam MacRae

            Right. The Leslie I know stands to pee, but I’m reasonably sure the Lesley doesn’t. Kim is another fraught name ’round these parts.

          5. laurie kalmanson

            indeed. same here. also, pat. interesting news item recently on a dev named kim having trouble finding work, then using the suffix mr. magically was more attractive to the labor marker. here: http://au.ibtimes.com/artic

    2. whatever

      Joe Nocera is 61.Perhaps getting your information in bursts of 140 char line noise has affected your reading abilities.You may wish to reread (feel free to use your lips) and see where you went offtrack.

      1. William Mougayar

        Sorry, you’re right. The “other Joe” character that was being caricatured was 46. Still, 61 is young for seeing Twitter as a fad.The best way to fight the social media fire, is with social media water.And I was reading the full article online. Geez, you do sound like Joe, the 61-year old one.

      2. Donna Brewington White

        Such vitriol!You could have stopped at the first sentence and made your point. The rest suggests that your comment was aimed at retaliation because reading William’s comment would have clued you in on his comprehension capacity.

        1. whatever

          The “vitriol” wasn’t mine. William’s post was smug and insulting.And as he applauded himself for being so smart as to “get” Twitter, he showed he couldn’t even read Joe Nocera’s article correctly and understand that.I applied the same standard to William as he felt free to apply to Joe Nocera.But your concern is noted.

          1. William Mougayar

            Whatever. Fitting name.

          2. whatever

            Ya know, you’re about the most privileged guy I’ve met in a while. Entrepreneur, VC, you’re living the life dude.You insulted Joe Nocera, and when called on it, you run away from responsibility.You could be gracious and acknowledge the humor in attacking another person for having an inability to “get” twitter all while missing some critical facts from his article, or you can be an ass.What I posted, certainly wasn’t vitriol, nor was it even on par with what you wrote.i suspect Joe doesn’t need your saving, and if he did, I suspect it’s not too late to save him.You? I really have my doubts.

          3. William Mougayar

            Everyone took a swag at Joe, but you’re free to focus on me, although ‘insult’ is far from an accurate characterization of my remarks. and I didn’t run away from responsibility. I quickly acknowledged my blunder about his age, and moved on.It would be big of you to also move on.

    3. JamesHRH

      I actually like Joe’s description.I think he is copping out with the ‘too old for tech’ line.What he is unable to say is:- as a journalist, I got to stand between ‘the people’ & ‘the story’- I got paid really well to do so- my ego really liked being in that positionTwitter takes all that away form me & I hate it.

      1. laurie kalmanson

        the whole disintermediation thing, yeah. gatekeepers and palace guards have been disrupted for a long time now

      2. Dave Pinsen

        Agreed that age is a red herring here. In fact, there’s a much younger NYT reporter, Catherine Rampell (@crampell), who uses Twitter, but doesn’t quite seem to get it either. After I started following her, I noticed a pattern where I would read about an interesting story on Twitter, and then a couple of days later, she might tweet about it. So I tweeted, “Follow @crampell to read about interesting stuff a couple of days after everyone else does”.

        1. ShanaC

          oof. That doesn’t look good

          1. Dave Pinsen

            In her defense, she tweeted something new to me today (a story in the NY Times), which I retweeted. Seems to be if the news comes from elsewhere though, she’s a day or two late to it.

          2. Donna Brewington White

            I get value out of articles/posts tweeted later than they were initially published especially if it’s from a source that I would not ordinarily access. I’m not so much referring to news items where timing is an issue.

          3. Dave Pinsen

            I do too sometimes.

      3. PhilipSugar

        I would say I got paid really well to do so is not right. Look up a NYTimes reporter salary.That is actually the only thing I worry about is that if we totally commoditize journalism we will not get any true reporting.

        1. JamesHRH

          Really good / great journos are like anyone else who is good at what they do – hard working, focused on the job at hand, principled, etc.More so that most high profile positions, an average media person at a ‘big name’ title does almost nothing, is interested only in self promotion / gotcha stories & would sell their mother to the Huns.Good riddance to the vast majority of them; the hardiest of the species will survive in the new environment.

        2. CJ

          It’s not like we’re getting much anyway. Our government has curated our news by selectively leaking stories to favored journalists for a long time now. The press isn’t free anymore, sad as I am to say that.

          1. PhilipSugar

            We agree.

    4. laurie kalmanson

      the age 46 or 61 when the internet has been underway for 20 years is being behind for a loooooong time. the internet was already well under way in the late 90s. missing the boat for that long seems to be a willful act of ignorance in the first world.

      1. William Mougayar


      2. gorbachev

        Yep. I’m only slightly younger than him, and I consider myself “raised on the Internet”.edit: I’m slightly younger than 46

        1. laurie kalmanson

          20 twenty years ago, when the world was changing from not digital to all digital all the time, if you chose to close your eyes and say na na na na na you would be 60 and blind to it now.40 now and blind to it meant you closed your eyes in your 20s.

  8. JLM

    .Twitter has literally driven the spread of democracy and freedom in the world and is much cheaper than Armored Divisions.It is less trouble to learn how to drive Twitter than a tank. And, then, the damn gunnery of a tank. Sheesh! Where can you get the damn oil changed these days? You think Jiffy Lube will change the oil in your tank?There is Old School and there is Dinosaurs.Joe Nocera — opinion writer for the NYT, a formerly relevant newspaper — is a dinosaur.RIP, Joey.Meanwhile Twitter will be reaching out further and farther than the NYT ever hoped to be able to do.You don’t have to love Twitter, but you damn sure better not ignore it.JLM — @JLM73TX.

    1. Carl Rahn Griffith

      King Canute comes to mind ;-)Not waving, but drowning…

    2. JamesHRH

      As usual, right on the button.

    3. LE

      “opinion writer for the NYT, a formerly relevant newspaper”Wha? It’s still relevant. Whether it makes money or not doesn’t change whether it’s relevant.Nocera has access, power and a platform to change people’s opinions or get people talking.This has nothing to do with whether I agree or disagree with what he says.

    4. charlie

      Remember when SOS H.R. Clinton ran around like a chicken with its head cut off trying to persuade Twitter not to shut down service during key points of the Arab Spring? Raised on a steady diet of everyone’s favorite kookologist, @kidmercury, I can’t wait to find out years from now that most tweets coming out of the Middle East at that time were actually coming from inside the US government. Arab Spring: Inside Job?

      1. JLM

        .You have to believe that the “positive” dirty tricks capabilities of the CIA have been working overtime on social media.It would be malpractice if they were not.Misinformation and disinformation in the espionage world is in the first column of the menu. These are core functions ever since it was suggested that Andropov loved American jazz. My personal all time favorite.JLM.

  9. Startup New Zealand

    Likewise we all love & embrace Twitter and hate is part of the game but the successful have a very different experience than the struggler’s. For us its about getting heard by making sense in a lot of noise and that seldom happens. On a personal note I feel startup founders are better of spending time meeting customers than mastering Twitter nevertheless its an awesome source of information / staying update

    1. pointsnfigures

      sometimes the truth comes out on twitter as well…..unfortunately for some people.

      1. Startup New Zealand

        Twitter is awesome but my rant is around how its been used by the elite VC’s / Celebs in the cover of being accessible its PM within their circle for the audience to pick up the convo but them not really being accessible however if Kim Kardashnia is a TV sensation its logical that if a VC burps there’s an audience to play on it. Again Twitter is awesome but it can be used better but thats like asking for a perfect world.

        1. pointsnfigures

          Free markets are messy. But they are better.

  10. falicon

    Negative feedback has a cause. It’s better to be aware and exposed to it otherwise you will never have any chance of understanding it (or be able to harness and direct the power of it).As a *great* example of how to harness the power of negative feedback check out how this author responds to his one negative review on amazon ( http://www.amazon.com/revie… ) …that one simple thing sold him at least a few extra books (one to me included though I didn’t bother to be active in the conversation or reviews)…and provides a story that sticks with people and makes them willing/wanting to share it (again like I am now).

    1. Anne Libby

      That’s a really great example. Should be required reading for social media people at the airlines. And in congressional offices.

    2. ShanaC

      I should read that

      1. falicon

        I’m almost done with it on my kindle (it’s very short)…worth the price for sure, but then again, I was already a believer in ‘belief’. Great stuff for an entrepreneur to think about.

    3. Donna Brewington White

      Class. Act. Thanks for sharing, Kevin.

  11. William Mougayar

    Dear Joe,There’s this book that came out 3 years ago…”Twitter for Dummies”

  12. whatever

    Actually I think you ignored one of his main complaints: the self-promotional nature of many tweets.Let me add to that that the SNR is just way too low, especially when it’s such a retweeting circle-jerk.I’d love to know how you twitter experts manage the retweets.

  13. Mac

    In South Carolina we have a town where a ‘soapbox’ is still used for ‘political stumping’. It offers little protection and everything is in your face. Toughened skin required.Twitter is just the latest (high tech) incarnation: albeit safer and a larger audience.

  14. LIAD

    it’s a bit late in the day to still misunderstand twitter.

  15. markslater

    smells of “taking ball and running home” to me..Get over it – everyone is a journalist on twitter – and that IS a good thingi

    1. laurie kalmanson

      in olden days, goofing off at a newspaper was reading the wire.in the 21st century, everyone who wants one has their own wire

  16. takingpitches

    Seriously? You are going to write an opinion piece about the downside of using Twitter WITHOUT ACTUALLY HAVING USED IT.This is the Op-Ed section of the Paper Of Record?

  17. Startup New Zealand

    “Getting sucked up to is way worse” Agree! But the irony is like most people sucking up to VC’s the latter are constantly sucking up to Twitter, FB, Instagram, Google and everything out there that’s amazingly successful rather than focusing their mind share & influence on today’s dark horse and tomorrows star. Its a two way street built by human nature

  18. laurie kalmanson

    a friend in a non-digital industry recently was sent to a social media class by his work.first email: could you explain twitter to me?second email: so if i search for #indierock i can follow people and if i post with #indierock they can find me?it’s just that easy

  19. Paul Rubillo

    Don’t suck up. Don’t be negative. What’s left? LOL! Needed to add more color to my initial thought, http://moneyblog.com/dont-b

  20. johndodds

    The UK worked this out six years ago, when Leisa called Twitter “ambient intimacy” – that’s fewer then 140 characters but speaks volumes. I don’t think it’s been bettered.The original article is more interesting than the op-ed too http://www.disambiguity.com/ambien...

  21. Richard

    Twitter is a like a Swiss Army Knife for a hiker/camper. You don’t realize how useful it is until you bring it with you.

  22. Alan Warms

    I think Twitter needs to provide more for folks who don’t get it -like some kind of instructional manual or video or something. IMO you end up getting a ton of value after you’ve followed a relatively broad set of folks for topics of interest. So for me for example during the Presidential debates twitter rocked because of my choice of folks I followed. Maybe allow people to mirror other folks? So if you’re a first time user who’s a journalist you pick an experienced guy and follow everyone they follow to start.Issue is this takes time to do – early users like most of your readers have done this over 5 years. For a new person, I bet they get to 20-30 and stop for a while. Not enough to really “get it.”

    1. Donna Brewington White

      I agree that it does help to have a guide. When I first started I read so many blog posts on the topic. There is a plethora out there.

    1. laurie kalmanson

      awesomeno excuse for willful ignorance

    2. LE

      From Dave Winer:”That’s such crap. This is a columnist at the NY Times? He’s willing himself into obsolescence. My own opinion — if he’s too lazy or stupid”Nocera could very well be playing the same hand that Andy Rooney did on 60 minutes. He made being stuck in the past into a somewhat lucrative career.This, in yiddish, is known as a “shtick”. All entertainers have one. It fits with the audience.

  23. bsoist

    I am writing this on my phone in a Hailo cab in Londonand he can’t figure out Twitter. ๐Ÿ™‚

  24. Michael Eisenberg

    I can relate to Nocera. Living in Israel, we are kind of used to having hate spewed at us by the NY Times…all the time.

    1. Pete Griffiths

      Naughty media.

  25. howardlindzon

    Joe Nocera is an embarassment to the other Joe Nocera. I thought he was a writer. The stuff about haters is baloney. You write, you get nutjobs hating. Twitter made it easy to block them. Such a lazy damn article even though he could have made some great points. The pope being on twitter is just dumb. all pomp, no substance. He follows 8 white guys in robes…should have just joined group me and saved twitter some cloud space.As for Doug Kass, he joined for the wrong reasons. All promotion, little substancel and primadonna behavior. Good riddance to takers.

    1. falicon


    2. JLM

      .Lay off the Pope.The guy is trying to become relevant to a world wide organization that has been run by very, very old white guys for a long, long time.I admire his pluck.If by being on Twitter, he becomes a bit more relevant. Then WELL PLAYED to the Pope.He is doing his best.Twitter is not just for the hip, it is also for the holy. Think about it. There is almost no realm of life in which Twitter’s shadow is not present.The freakin’ Dalai Lama has a Twitter account. So why not the Pope. Those two chaps can communicate with each other.JLM.

      1. howardlindzon

        the pope can take my sarcasm. lets just disagree on it.you are way overplaying twitter. these bogus users hurt twitter and the ecosystem as much as help it.if those two chaps cant connect for a real chat without using twitter we have much bigger problems. hes the freaking pope.

        1. JLM

          .Take your sarcasm?Haha — The Pope would bless you and say a prayer for you. He’d give you a blessing and make your hair grow back.He’s not down on your level. He likes to keep it real and positive. He’s not hustling, he’s healing.JLM.

          1. howardlindzon

            he cant make my hair grow back…thats where you get it wrong. he’s the guy hustling people into believing that nonsense. In a way I am healing as much as him…my words and ideas heal…just a much smaller reach and no pope mobile to keep out the haters ๐Ÿ™‚

          2. JLM

            .Yes, I have often thought — Hwd Linz & the Pope blood brothers. Both doing God’s work.I wouldn’t overlook the hair idea. Could work. What have you got to lose?JLM.

      2. LaVonne Reimer

        Love that the Pope figured out how to generate measurable value from his use of Twitter. Follow him and get some time off purgatory. I’m waiting to hear the Dalai Lama has topped that!

        1. JLM

          .I may be wrong about this but I think you can buy a few dispensations and graces from the Pope using either Twitter or the Papal website.Good test case for bitcoin?I will definitely look into the Purgatory angle as I am thinking I may not quite qualify.JLM.

          1. LaVonne Reimer

            Interesting idea about bitcoin. As for Purgatory, surely doing a start-up or two here on earth would have to be more than enough!

    3. Ethan Bauley

      I concur w/ Howard. My experience w/ Mr. Nocera from a PR point of view suggests he is among the worst offenders of ivory tower armchair quarterback editorial.In truth I find the attitude expressed in that piece to be essentially hypocritical given the various incendiary judgments he regularly throws out in his column (no matter how devoid of profanity they may be).

  26. ShanaC

    I think there are other issues – we don’t teach people these things matter and that being impolite on the web has repercussions.

    1. laurie kalmanson

      those are often self correcting, relatively quickly

  27. Yalim K. Gerger

    Today not having a Twitter account, is like not watching news in the 80’s. This is especially sad for a Journalist.To me, Twitter is where news happen, period. It is where I can get best news from the right resources at the right time.You got to give some effort to find the right accounts to follow. So like many thing, you get as much value out of it as you put in it. But once you do it, you get uncensored, real time, high quality news about the things that interest you most. Nothing compares to it. I don’t watch TV anymore for news. How cool is that?Also, if he is complaining about people attacking him, he simply should get an anonymous account.

    1. charlie

      On the other hand, today not having a twitter account is like watching the news in the 80s. In both instances you have to go to other sources to get the full news. The value of twitter is the outlinks. Think about that for a second.

      1. Yalim K. Gerger

        Yes, sure. absolutely. Without the outlinks the whole thing would lose its entire value.

    2. Donna Brewington White

      Well said. There is a GIGO effect. You have to choose what goes into your stream. And I’ll live with the advertising because I’m so relieved that Twitter found a way to monetize.

  28. Farhan Lalji

    The important thing is… London? How long? Coffee? Pint?

    1. fredwilson

      three days. a mix of business and hanging with my two girls who i haven’t seen in a couple months

      1. Farhan Lalji

        Fair enough. Enjoy our fair city.

  29. kidmercury

    i don’t think he misunderstands it so much as he simply doesn’t like what it offers.not everyone likes short bursty stuff and twitter is getting more and more content on its site, i.e. photos in stream, vine, etc. everyone devolves to an integrated social network because users ultimately want an integrated experience as they always have.as for hate on twitter, some like it, some don’t. each community has its own culture and values. there are certain things one can post in fredland that will get their comment deleted by a moderator. everyone has their line.calling twitter, a company whose source code is not open, whose API is increasingly restricted, and who possesses the capability to delete accounts and tweets at will “open” only proves the word “open” is completely void of meaning, serving only to create emotional value.

    1. LE

      “as he simply doesn’t like what it offers”Exactly. Like saying “I don’t understand golf” can mean many things.

    2. andyidsinga

      hey speaking about vine, did you see the jesse ventura thing on will sasso’s vine? ๐Ÿ™‚

  30. Dan Jackson

    It looks like Joe is actually 61 not 46. http://en.wikipedia.org/wik…Also, here is an interesting chart from PEW on the decline of print from 1991-2012:

    1. charlie

      Wonder what the difference is between “online” and “any digital news.” (Even though graphs without proper context are always prettier.)

  31. leigh

    I have to say that i think it would be worse to be a teacher — i doubt when you go into Teachers college you think about the fact that you are going to be publicly judged by a group of hormonal teenagers. Totally horrifying.

    1. Dave W Baldwin

      Would be an interesting thing to have numbers on (bad tweets regarding teachers), but I think you’d be surprised. Many kids understand that Twitter is very open so you have the combination of wanted anon with the fact you’d be surprised how better socially behaved kids are than adults.

      1. leigh

        They don’t do it on twitter — they have whole websites where they do that. (social media more generally twitter less specifically)

        1. Dave W Baldwin


  32. Sean Hull

    I like twitter too, but it’s taken me a long while to get the hang of it. Learning how to jump on to chats, or how to use hashtags to reach a larger audience. All these things were not intuitive at the start.What’s more engagement has been a more illusive concept. When you first come on the service, you probably think number of followers says it all. But some highly followed accounts don’t engage at all, while others will have real conversations with you.

  33. RacerRick

    Joe may be onto something, here. This twitter thing has no legs.

  34. hypermark

    Classic false dichotomy. Nocera prefers other mediums, which is obviously his prerogative, but it misses the point.Twitter isn’t long-form and it isn’t “governed” in the same sense of a traditional publisher. It’s a different animal, and every animal has its own native attributes, some good, some bad, some just..different.But guess what? TV wasn’t radio. Movies aren’t TV. Digital isn’t the same as print. We can argue that paper books are better than ebooks, and we can also assert that physical bookstores are better than virtual ones.But progress just moves forward. For gravity just is.He could have titled the piece, “The case against automobiles.”

  35. Brandon Burns

    Of all the topics covered on AVC, defending Twitter and Foursquare must rank in the top 5 most frequent topics.Both services have their lovers, they both have their haters. They both have a place in the lives of many people, but neither is going to be as ubiquitous as Facebook โ€” and that’s okay (or at least it should be if you’re not okay with that).So really, at this point, what’s the point of continuing to defend Twitter and Foursquare? Especially since you’re the guy who likes investing in the underdogs that most other people don’t understand?If they’re both doing so well, maybe just enjoy it and let the haters hate.

    1. andyidsinga

      i hate loving twitter

  36. Dan

    Out of curiosity, what is wrong with Joe’s avoidance of “hate”? Personally if I am in an overtly hostile environment I prefer to leave. I know many people think you should just ignore it, but why should I have to?

  37. Matt Zagaja

    I think the odd thing about this is that Nick Kristof, another New York Times columnist, uses twitter and other social media incredibly well and regularly engages with his readers. https://twitter.com/NickKri…. Engaging with journalists to get more perspective on stories and having them moderate debate on twitter is one of my favorite uses of the service.

  38. vruz

    There was a time when Twitter was a quirky errant child in need of a home.But that was then (2007) and this is now. People who don’t get it yet have homework to do: reach their closest bookshop and get one of those ‘For Dummies’ books.Or if they’re short of time (and/or willpower) watch the recent interview Dick Costolo did with Katie Couric. He explained it in a very short sentence.Twitter is very mainstream now and you can’t be educating every troll who comes your way. You don’t need to explain what’s a steering wheel anymore to people who want to use a whip for the horses.Ignore.

  39. LE

    “Getting sucked up to is way worse and trust me I get plenty of that too.”Well here’s an angle that you probably never thought of. You are lucky that you are married and not in the dating market. Otherwise you would be getting all sorts of female attention from women who are attracted by what you have and not who you are (other than the fact that who you are got you what you have).Now of course to a certain extent nothing in life or dating is pure. So there are always going to be valid enhancements to someones reason for being attracted to someone else. You just have to hope that it’s not to lopsided I guess and within specification.

  40. CJ

    The newspaper industry hasn’t figured out that the news is a perishable commodity. If you don’t sell it today it disappears and that’s money opportunity lost. They should charge $1 early in the day and let it slide towards free as the day wears on just like hotels are doing with empty rooms.

  41. jim

    The irony in these comments is that I know few people under 29 who actually use Twitter. It’s not nearly as young and hip as people in fredland wish.

    1. charlie

      I know lots of people under 29 who use it, but mostly as merely a delivery system for Instagram. So I agree. People on this comment stream are way overplaying their hand.

  42. Pete Griffiths

    “What I object to most of all is that, like other forms of social media, Twitter can be so hateful. It can bring out the worst in people, giving them license to tweet things they would never say in real life.”I find this rather comical. Of course it can be hateful, it can also be touching, glorious or funny. Media doesn’t change people it just provides a different channel. Of course, it you would prefer to be insulated from real life then by all means shut off channels that offend you. But, as Winston Churchill observed: “Build up fences against life, and eventually you shut off life itself.”I am sure it is possible for Joe to shut out the nasty people and hunker down in the ‘land of the nice happy people’ but that is building up fences against life and he is paying a price.

  43. Allan Leonard

    I second Joe and personally believe twitter sucks as it can never be an alternative to the traditional means of news..twitter is a whole lot of chaff than wheat…That said.. Disqus sucks big time on mobile.

  44. andyidsinga

    im misunderstanding hailo …specifically why they dont get their asses to portland :):):). ( okay, no need to answer that)

  45. andyidsinga

    one thing i _do_ understand about twitter is that the bots on there are awesome! a recent fun surprise was the Inigo Montoya bot – inconceivable!

    1. kevin iijima

      what is a bot,andy

      1. andyidsinga




  47. Semil Shah

    Some writers do indeed hide behind their brand and publication, but that is a dangerous strategy because it gives the illusion that they have the final word — when in fact, they lose the message and conversation entirely.



  49. Guest

    Twitter is like a tasting menu / snacks whilst long-form is like a full-blown Chinese wedding banquet.Tasting menus / snacks keep us hungry for more.Full-blown Chinese wedding banquets take ages to digest.

  50. Donna Brewington White

    Key here: “open communication channel” “this century”Not everyone wants to embrace either.



      1. Donna Brewington White

        Engineers aren’t human?

        1. FAKE GRIMLOCK


  51. Akki

    This piece of shit on twitter… :/

  52. JLM

    .Hey, you used to say that it “might” be big. Have you solidified your opinion, Sage?JLM.

  53. William Mougayar

    You should see some of the comments he’s getting on that article. It’s like the blind leading the blind. Some of them are really funny.”I agree that much is self-promotional; in fact it seems to dominate twitter compared to other social media. Why else would politicians be so keen on it?””Iโ€™ve been stunned by the low quality of comments posted even in The New York Times, which thankfully does not publish every comment it receives. On the Washington Post and the Journal, the comments are often not just idiotic but insulting or malicious.””When one of my students told me she had twittered about what kind of cream cheese she put on her bagel that morning I knew it was not for me.Twitter, that is, not bagels with cream cheese.”

  54. William Mougayar

    It reminds me of this corny joke I used to tell in 1995. What was the first thing that Adam told Eve?”Stand back, I’m not sure how big this thing is going to get.”

  55. jason wright

    it’s just a fad. he’s waiting for ‘order’ to be restored

  56. laurie kalmanson

    bigger every day. that little mark with the a around it … the one that’s becoming really big now. a lot of people use it to communicate.http://www.youtube.com/watc

  57. awaldstein

    The very best example of this trend of being out of whack is HBRs commenting policy that is presented with as much subtlety as a Curb Your Dog sign on the street.

  58. gorbachev

    Comments like those are the reason I don’t read comments on the Internet in general, other than in a few places where people actually know how to behave and have meaningful things to say (AVC, Hacker News, etc.)I used to use a browser plugin called CommentBlocker to make sure I didn’t see the comments. It was a tremendous help keeping my blood pressure down and controlling sudden urges to curse at the monitor. Sadly the maintainer of the plugin hasn’t updated it recently and it’s kinda breaking things on numerous sites so I can’t use it any more.

  59. William Mougayar

    I was thinking about your Tumblr post Arnold, exactly. They still don’t get it.

  60. pointsnfigures

    Paul Krugman shut down comments to his articles. Too many chips in the Ivory Tower threatening the foundation.

  61. andyidsinga

    i wonder if “edit for length” includes adding content to someone’s comment?

  62. LE

    Bad commenting ruins the brand. It’s makes perfect sense.There is a industry specific blog that I scan but the comments are all juvenile and the blogger has an attitude to boot. It’s a truly painful experience but unfortunately it’s not optional reading (because there are few like this and some of the info ends up having value).

  63. charlie

    Not in either his columns or blog posts on nytimes.com. Perhaps too many paint chips threatening the reading comprehension.

  64. laurie kalmanson

    It’s a classic

  65. laurie kalmanson

    also, the hairstyles, lol

  66. William Mougayar

    Yes, we are spoiled here at AVC.

  67. andyidsinga

    ive been trying trying to bring down the quakity of the comments here on avc for a while. it doesn’t work :)[ edit: meant _quality_ , but the typo is worth a chuckle ]

  68. baba12

    the issue isn’t about being big, is it being relevant. Fios was just rolled out in these parts of Brooklyn. Most of the folks in my neighborhood can’t afford broadband services. These folks and many many millions elsewhere will be left out and so the impact of the internet while being big on society at large is still also pricing many folks out of education, work and ability to have a life with dignity.I am trying to negotiate with Verizon so that I can provide a community wifi network and lower the cost of access for these folks. So far I have been told politely that it is not doable for them.

  69. JLM

    .Hair today, gone tomorrow?Sorry, cruel.JLM.

  70. William Mougayar

    God created only a few perfect heads, and he gave hair to the rest of them.

  71. awaldstein

    Wrote it up early this morning–Moderator madness… http://awe.sm/dGQIB