Signal, Noise and Twitter

I had lunch with a friend yesterday who’s become a big fan of Twitter, and he asked me if my views of it had changed since I set up an account. My response was that, if anything, I’m even more of a skeptic than I was before, but that my reasons are really more personal than they are about Twitter.

On the same theme as my earlier Signal to Noise post, the problem we all have now isn’t too little information, it’s too much, w-a-a-a-a-y too much. As an investor and advisor to early-stage companies, my #1 job is to process lots of disparate information to spot themes and trends that the companies I work with can leverage to create advantage. Between my inbox and my feed reader, I have all the input velocity I need. My problem is carving out time for lower velocity activities like long-format reading (e.g., books, whitepapers), open-ended conversation and uninterrupted thought time to put it all together. Adding Twitter to my media mix takes me in the exact opposite direction from where I want to go.

(As a postscript to this post, it was funny to read the news today confirming Twitter’s purchase of Summize, since their sole value prop is to help folks pick patterns and trends out of the Twitterstream. Since Twitter was launched in July 2006, it took just two years for this entirely new communications medium to require an abstraction layer – a nice example of the problem).