New York Personal Injury Law Blog » Blogging, Twitter


January 30th, 2009

Twitter: A Review

The other day I trashed Twitter a bit (Twitter and The Age of Information Overload) because I already have so many sources for information and didn’t really see why I needed another one, and didn’t see how it was much of an improvement over existing technology. I wrote from the standpoint of someone who had not yet joined.

Well, now I have joined. My Thursday trial was adjourned, so I opened a Twitter account (@Turkewitz), downloaded Tweetdeck, and started noodling to see if my opinion would change. After two days I now consider myself expert enough to write on the subject.

There are two fundamental issues with Twitter that exist for any social networking site: Technology and Community.

I am certainly not impressed with Twitter technology and stand by the point I made the other day about listservs or other electronic forums being superior. And when I write about technology I don’t mean the geek end; I mean the user end.

I first joined the online world with Prodigy back in ’92 and have used one forum or another for online discussion since then. Twitter may be different than other current platforms, but is it better? The answer is clearly no.

Any good forum should have these critical components to allow for posting links and engaging in discussion:

  • Multiple discussion boards so that those that want to talk baseball aren’t in the same forum as those that want to talk knitting;
  • The option to follow a discussion either in threaded fashion or chronologically, or simply to collapse the thread into the heading; and
  • The option to ignore certain users because they want to talk about Mac and Cheese instead of the forum subject.

Twitter doesn’t really do this well. It’s a type of scattershot approach to social networking, but the discussion is strewn so far and it would be tough to follow any kind of conversation that might actually break out. And if you actually wanted to make a decent point in reply to an article or blog post, you would still be limited to 140 characters. (Though that might be a blessing in disguise for many.)

One of the best discussion forums I’ve seen is the one created by The Motley Fool financial site. If you look at this board for Apple, for example, you can see a neat, clean user interface. You can ignore people and threads with the click of a button. These boards have existed since the mid-90s.

A good law forum should work the same way, with the ease of dropping in links and creating bios and arguing with one another, because that’s what so many like to do. If you want to get rid of the Mac and Cheese Poster or the chucklehead only concerned with self-promotion, then poof — they’re gone.

The Motley Fool boards blow the doors off anything Twitter has to offer.

Great technology is useless without users. And even crappy technology is good if you have good users.

Twitter has succeeded in attracting the legal community, in lightening speed. How fast? An article by law technology guru Robert Ambrogi on August 8, 2008 in Law Technology News reviews various social networking sites for lawyers. Twitter isn’t even mentioned.

And then there is an article in the January 2009 Trial Magazine (sub. only) about social networking for lawyers. It discusses Facebook and Linkedin and a couple others. But still no Twitter. Assuming the article was submitted a couple of months back, it gives you an idea as to how fast Twitter has taken off in the legal world.

So Twitter appears to be succeeding in the community development end. And that means it can be a valuable tool if you value finding articles and cases that may get swapped here and there, though they may be of limited use if (like me) you have a narrow geographic focus and practice area. I’ll get far more value out of a forum with 25 local personal injury attorneys than I will out of a forum of 2,500 attorneys in different fields spread out over the nation. But I’m not everyone and your mileage may vary.

So Twitter is succeeding, and can be a decent tool for some things. I will continue to noodle with it and use it to see how it goes. Not because the technology is good, but because that is where people are congregating. Yes, I know, that is simply a self-fulfilling prophecy.

But I don’t see it as a keeper. Twitter is not the future of the legal blogosphere. My next piece will be on what I think the future holds.

Links to this post:

twitter for law firm marketing
i ran across an interesting post from eric turkewitz, a new york personal injury attorney who offers up his wisdom on his blog – the new york personal injury law blog. his post, titled twitter: a review was a lucid overview of a social

posted by admin @ February 10, 2009 5:04 PM

quickies and white lies
no, this post isn’t about guys who break-up with you just before valentine’s day. it contains a few follow-ups and forecasts about sex offender laws, schenectady’s felonious ex-police chief, the future of the legal blogiverse,
posted by David Giacalone @ February 03, 2009 10:37 AM

4 thoughts on “Twitter: A Review

  1. “After two days I now consider myself expert enough to write on the subject.”

    Wow, two whole days. Nothing like thorough research to back up your review – heheh. BTW: All three things you list a “should haves” in your TECHNOLOGY section are available. At least two of them are available in Tweetdeck. You didn’t even bother to learn to use the app before you blasted the entire idea.

    I know who I *wouldn’t* hire to represent me – the guy who makes snap judgments, considers himself an ‘expert’ in 48 hours, can’t be bothered to learn how to use a new product, is still so completely stuck in the past he wants his information solely from listserv…..

    I could go on, but you probably were already an expert on my opinion after two sentences.

    Remember, though, in the age of the internet, everything you put out there is part of your public relations package…and it lives forever online. You may want to hire someone to read your stuff before you hit “post”…just to make sure you don’t sound like a putz.

    And to fix your typos.

  2. Vox:

    I thought it obvious that the “expert” comment was facetious given the two day comment.

    As to some of the technology being available in Tweetdeck, I have used it. But that doesn’t mean it is better than what previously existed. It isn’t. In 17 years online I’ve seen many different platforms for discussion. Twitter doesn’t impress me. Perhaps the next version will be better.

    As to getting info solely from a listserv, I didn’t say that. But you would have to read the posts to learn that.

    And as to typos, it is part of blogging. When I see them I fix them but I don’t sweat over them. The substance is more important.

  3. Eric

    It seems to me that there as many different ways to use Twitter as there are members. I’ve only used it a few weeks, but I think there’s a way to make it work for most.

    The one thing I like is that you can create the community you want depending on your goals for the use. You posted:

    I’ll get far more value out of a forum with 25 local personal injury attorneys than I will out of a forum of 2,500 attorneys in different fields spread out over the nation. But I’m not everyone and your mileage may vary.

    I think the beauty of Twitter is that there is a HUGE mass of people (lawyers and non-lawyers), and you can tailor who you follow by your goals.

    Kevin O’Keefe has a nationwide business model, and it makes sense for him to follow and interact with lawyers all over the country as a networking tool.

    If people with practices like you and I have only want to use Twitter as a networking tool, then we can limit the people we follow to those in our state and local areas. And we can easily get to know a lot more people (lawyers and non-lawyers) than we could in traditional means. You can pick 200 people in NYC, and follow them. You can get to know them, insert your thoughts on PI stuff, and then those 200 or so will perhaps think of you when they or someone in their cirlce of influence need a PI atty. Those relationships might also develop offline. I’ve met people (non-lawyers mostly) around Austin that I only “knew” from Twitter, and every time it was a benefit. Similarly, I’ve referred a matter to a Dallas atty that I only knew from Twitter. I never would have known of her without it.

    If you want to use Twitter for education, you can use a different tactic. Follow Anne Reed or JuryVox or others throughout the country to learn from them.

    Or you can use Twitter for strictly social purposes. I follow Scott Greenfield not because I expect I’ll ever get a case out of him, but he does make me laugh and think.

    I do agree that if you go into it willy nilly then it can be a complete waste of time. But if you tailor it for the ways you want, then I think you can find value in it. Of course, as you say, your mileage may vary.