(comic from geekandpoke.typepad.com)
Time Magazine recently released its list of the top 140 twitter accounts, and there were a number of accounts listed under the “sports” heading:
Old Hoss Radbourn
My intial reaction to this list was one of amusement, and I suggested that these are the kind of accounts you might follow and adjudge to be among the best tweeters if you were not an interactive user. Ben Kabak of RAB followed up with the following comment that I thought succinctly summarized the problem with this list:
That’s why I said it’s so Time Magazine-y. Very passive, web 1.0 list of Twitter accounts. Few people who engage.
The list drives home the fact that there is a huge gulf between the general perception of Twitter and its actual utility. Most people see Twitter as a one way street, a tool to follow celebrities, funny people, and Eric Stangel without much interaction. To them, Twitter serves as an RSS feed to the thoughts of the interesting elite, which is why it may seem vapid to spend a lot of time using it. Whenever I tell people that I frequently utilize Twitter, they roll their eyes and ask me some variation of “Why do you care about Celebrity X’s dinner”?
But Twitter has the capability to be so much more, and for many of us it has become an invaluable implement in the sports fan toolbox. It has much greater utility as a social networking device than it does as a celebrity follower, and no greater example can be found in the sports world, where media members, bloggers, and fans have come together to build a vibrant network for discussion and debate about sports.
For many, Twitter has replaced the traditional forums and blogs as the primary means of interacting with other fans. Rather than commenting on a website or blog and constantly refreshing to see if anyone has responded, people engage other fans directly, receiving quick responses to their thoughts and questions and stimulating spirited debates about even the most minor of details impacting their favorite team. Questions or ideas that may have previously been discarded because they were too thin in detail or evidence to warrant a blog post or comment are thrown out regularly on Twitter, and are built into more fully developed ideas through discussion with other informed fans. Additionally, the ephemeral nature of Twitter makes people more comfortable in opening up a bit as to their own lives, which allows people to actually connect with other fans in a meaningful way. I know of many real friendships that began on Twitter, and can say that my fan experience has been greatly enhanced by the interaction that the medium allows for.
Twitter also serves as a news source, as reporters break news on Twitter with regularity, and users can count on being among the first to know when anything important happens in sports. Furthermore, readers can now directly question those media members with access to insiders, opening up avenues of information that were never available to the fans. No longer do you have to wait days to hear back from a writer when you offer an opinion on something he or she wrote, as you often can discuss the topic with the author minutes after his words become publicly available. Even some players have taken to interacting with their fans on Twitter, with guys such as Logan Morrison and CJ Wilson allowing the world to get to know them as people.
Taking all of these elements together, fans now have an amazing resource that allows them to combine intelligent debate, up to the minute news, and interaction with individuals who were previously difficult to reach, all in one easy to use medium. I am not going to say that the people using Twitter as the RSS Feed Of The Stars are misusing it, as everyone can make their own choices regarding how to utilize the medium, and I can respect those who are not looking for an interactive experience. But as the Time list suggests, Twitter needs to do a better job explaining the versatility and utility of their product to consumers, because there is so much more to Twitter than Eric Stangel.
(On that note, I strongly encourage all of our readers to join Twitter and participate in the discussion. Here are the accounts associated with TYA:
* TYA Twitter -@YankeeAnalysts
* EJ Fagan - @ejfagan
* Matt Imbrogno -@mimbro1
* William J. -@WilliamNYY23
* Larry Koestler-@Larry_Koestler
* Moshe Mandel -@MosheTYA
* Sean P. -@PPinstripes
* Eric Schultz - @Eric_J_S
It really is a great resource and plenty of fun. I look forward to interacting with those of you who decide to join.)
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