I Won’t Be Using Twitter Any Time Soon (I Think)

[Update: You might want to read the comments.]

You may have heard of Twitter. It’s a free social-networking service that allows users to send updates and read other users’ updates. Updates are text-based posts of up to 140 characters in length; they’re commonly referred to as “tweets.” Twitter describes itself as “a service for friends, family, and co–workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: What are you doing?”

It’s easy to find people waxing lyrical about Twitter. The lead evangelist in the legal community is Kevin O’Keefe; see for example this LexBlog post.

But I have no plans to start using Twitter. With my book, seminars, articles, and blog, it’s not as if I’m wanting for outlets. If anyone is interested in what I do, they can browse my website, subscribe to my blog’s RSS feed, or sign up to be notified by email whenever I post new items on my blog.

Conceivably I could post on Twitter drastically boiled-down versions of some of my blog posts, or stray observations that wouldn’t warrant a blog post. But who would be reading my tweets? Presumably a technophile subset of those who read my blog—I’d be preaching to the converted. I’d be better off instead working to spread the word to the 99% who know little or nothing about what I do.

As for my reading tweets, they’re an unlikely medium for discussing something as gnarly as use and abuse of contract language. And if anything potentially of interest to me should make its way onto Twitter, it’s a safe bet that it would make its way to other channels in very short order.

I’m not suggesting that Twitter isn’t of use—plenty of lawyers evidently find it of value. That Twitter’s home page refers to use by “friends, family, and co–workers” suggests that the developers anticipate that it would be used primarily for ongoing back-and-forth communication between peers. And it’s good for speedy dissemination of time-sensitive information. (For one take on what Twitter is useful for, see this post by a blogger at the Telegraph.)

But the information flow between a specialist and consumers of analyses produced by that specialist is a different matter. It tends to be mostly one way, sporadic, and detailed—in other words, not conducive to Twitter. For the time being, I’m wearing my specialist hat. For other kinds of information, I find that email, blog comments, and the telephone are more than adequate for my purposes. If and when the nature of my information flow changes, I’ll consider anew whether I could make good use of Twitter.

So if you’re wondering what all the Twitter hype is about and you’re bemused as to how you might use it, it might simply be that your information flow isn’t of a sort that could sensibly be handled by Twitter.

About the author

Ken Adams is the leading authority on how to say clearly whatever you want to say in a contract. He’s author of A Manual of Style for Contract Drafting, and he offers online and in-person training around the world. He’s also chief content officer of LegalSifter, Inc., a company that combines artificial intelligence and expertise to assist with review of contracts.