Ego Surfin'

It's pretty unseemly to make a big deal of how many Twitter followers (or Facebook friends, or Tesla cars) one has, but I have to confess that lately I've been spending a lot of time refreshing the Top 100 list on Twitdir, especially as I started to pull ahead of Scoble and Calacanis in the race for the most followers on Twitter. It's a stupid thing to care about, I know, but I have an ego (really? no kidding), and knowing that over 21,000 people are following me is kind of cool. Knowing I'm second only to Barack Obama is humbling. Trying to come up with a way to keep all those people entertained is terrifying.

Thanks to @jbulava who made me this graph on Trendrr:

I now know that I will never catch up with Barack (I'm fine with that), that Calacanis can't overtake me no matter how much stuff he gives away (ha ha), and that Scoble will probably drink both our milkshakes sooner or later (sigh).

I wonder if I could get more followers if I wore a flag pin?

I'd love to pretend that the numbers don't matter to me. It seems crass to worry about how many people follow me on Twitter, but in my business numbers are all that matter. Shows survive or get cancelled depending on the numbers. Advertisers pay by the numbers. Most importantly for me, I need an audience. It's what motivates me. It's much more fun preaching to a full house than a bunch of empty pews. My wife says I'm not fully awake unless there are thousands of people watching or listening. I'm afraid she's right. So while I know I'm not supposed to care how many people are following me on Twitter, I'm actually glowing inside. Especially since Twitter is the flavor of the month.

Twitter LogoA lot of ink has been spilled trying to explain Twitter. If you're in the dark about why this odd little service has captured the attention of the digerati, CommonCraft's video explanation, Twitter in Plain English, or Zappo's CEO Tony Hsieh's Quick Start Guide are good places to start.

Part of the difficulty in explaining Twitter is that it can be used in many different ways. Some use it as a sort of IM service. This is, I think, the least interesting spin and I generally don't follow those folks. Others, like Scoble, Calacanis, and even Obama, I guess, use it mostly to promote what they're up to. I call it personality spam, and it's not terribly offensive as long as the personality is doing interesting things. A talented few, like Merlin Mann, use Twitter to entertain the troops, bless 'em.

I, like most folks, use Twitter as a mini-blog with an admittedly funky commenting system. It's easier to write four or five 140 character blog posts throughout the day, than to actually think through a larger post. That's how I write to Twitter, but I also read Twitter to keep up with what's going on. I follow about 300 folks, mostly web mavens, not for social reasons, but to stay on top of fast breaking ideas in tech, politics, and society. Twitter has become my primary source of information about these trends. That's one of the interesting things about Twitter - you can read it for different reasons than you write to it. And everyone who subscribes to Twitter can customize the service to make it what they want it to be.

I realize that many people don't care about Twitter. That's why I segregate my Tweets from the rest of the blog, but because it's my most common form of posting I also preserve those Tweets here. There's also a group, like Steve Gillmor, who believe that Twitter is the most important social network out there. More important, even, than Facebook. I agree. But I'll try not to spam you with my opinions on that score. Unless you'd like to help me stay ahead of Scoble and Calacanis. In which case, join Twitter and follow me at:

http://twitter.com/leolaporte

To keep from spamming people on that account, I've also set up a TWiT Live account where I'll be posting information about upcoming video feeds for the new TWiT TV channel:

http://twitter.com/twitlive

I won't offer you a Macbook Air, but I do promise to do my best to post interesting, useful stuff.

Other Twittering TWiTs worth following:

Anyone I've left out?