Bitter about Twitter

Oct. 1, 2009
If you like being in constant contact with machine-vision engineers who don’t know you, choose your social networking site carefully
If you like being in constant contact with machine-vision engineers who don’t know you, choose your social networking site carefully

by Andy Wilson, editor

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Before the age of information technology, the employees of many companies drove to work and, upon arriving, often spent half an hour gathered around the water cooler to hear the latest company gossip and scandal before retiring into separate walled offices to work. That is where socializing ended.

Engineers working on important projects often found the information they needed by reading important peer-reviewed journals and textbooks or by attending conferences held by such prestigious organizations such as the IEEE. Trade magazines, such as this one, provided competitive information about the industry in which these engineers served.

Then, as if overnight, came the introduction of the Internet and the World Wide Web. This brought with it a plethora of information which some have likened to visiting a library where all the books are thrown in one heap.

If all this information wasn’t enough, smart businessmen and -women leveraged the thirst for human knowledge by starting companies such as AOL and overnight became billionaires. Today, in a similar for-profit motive, a number of companies have emerged that promise to link the world even closer together.

All of these sites are not the same. While Facebook allows you to post pictures of your dog and your (hopefully negative) thoughts about the latest Quentin Tarantino movie, LinkedIn aims for the business professional, those seeking jobs, the latest news, and discussions about serious engineering problems. I thought I liked LinkedIn so much, in fact, that I joined up and you can find me at

In the years since joining I have amassed more than 600 “friends” who in turn know a lot more people. In fact, I am now virtually connected to more than 2.5 million people! As a virtual dynamic address book, LinkedIn is rather good. But unfortunately, it is little more. Like AOL, however, it will probably make its 40-year-old cofounder Reid Hoffman another few billion dollars when the company is either bought or files for an IPO.

Twisted and torn

Now, to appeal to 10-to-15-year olds, Twitter has reached the Internet. Those who Twitter are called Twits and they send Tweets. These tweets are text-based posts of up to 140 characters displayed on the author’s profile page and delivered to the author’s subscribers, known as “followers.”

What is really worrying is that large companies seem to be embracing this technology. Every PR person at one large company I know now has a Twitter account. And, at a very large trade show I recently attended, one company had set aside a whole “social networking” area where short messages from other Twits were being displayed on a very large flat-panel TV.

Please understand that I’m not a technology snob. But as one other cynical hack who attended the show remarked, Twitter appears to be just an excuse for another 25-year-old programmer in sunny California to make a million dollars rather quickly. Indeed, after asking some people to join even sites such as LinkedIn I have received negative feedback that people are just too busy for such nonsense.

As the late Michael Crichton once said, “In the information society, nobody thinks. We expect to banish paper, but we actually banish thought.” And so, in an effort to encompass Crichton’s thoughts while at the same time becoming a billionaire, I have decided to start my own anti-social networking site which I have dubbed “Bitter.”

Unlike Twitter, where you are allowed to type 140 of your own characters, Bitter will appeal to those with very little to say. So little, in fact, that they will only have a limited number of phrases from which to choose. These will all be bitter and include phrases such as “My dog just died,” “I hate my life,” and “My family are idiots.” Because users will not have to think, the appeal to 10-year-olds and younger will be huge, guaranteeing my early retirement.

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