Actor and aspiring Silicon Valley tycoon Ashton Kutcher recently took the stage at the CTIA conference in Las Vegas to discuss the state of social media. During his Q&A, Kutcher made a reference to Facebook being the new religion as it facilitates greater trust among complete strangers. However, the thing that stood out for me was his unwarranted negative views on the progression of Twitter and what he sees as an unmanageable floodgate of information.
Mr. Kutcher commented that Twitter "used to be a personalized experience that I could share." He went on to lament that the "signal-to-noise" ratio on the microblogging network has gotten out of hand. He blames Twitter's noise problems on two developments: 1) the automatic retweet button that was first introduced in 2009, to which he commented, "it created a lot of noise in the system that hurt the experience." And 2) he feels that there are too many media brands using the platform badly: "I think the media f----d it up. There's a lot of people selling shit that I don't want in my feed."
The comments are curious in that Kutcher was an early celebrity booster of the service and still currently boasts more than 14 million followers (he even had his own Twitter app). So, he—more than most—should know how to tailor Twitter to fit his needs. He even goes on to admit, "Maybe I need to curate my feed better. When I first started using [Twitter], it felt like the democratization of media."
I have watched Twitter go through several changes as it exploded into the mainstream. And it seems as democratic and free as ever—if not better than at any point in its development.
To be sure, there certainly is a lot of "noise" in the system. However, to its credit, Twitter has given users the power to filter it out. To that end, here are three simple steps that Ashton—or anyone—can take to hone the signal-to-noise ratio on Twitter:
Step One: Stop following people who aren't interesting
Undeniably, there are Twitter feeds from celebrities and organizations that are pure junk: There are the rappers who tweet way too much and with nonsensical ALL CAPS explicates; celebrities who use their Twitter feed to drive home a political viewpoint to the point of absurdity; and then people who are just boring.
I don't want to rag on Ashton for the sake of ragging, but his Twitter feed, for example, is really boring. And that's why I stopped following him long ago. (To be fair, celebrity and Silicon Valley investor folk—both groups to which Kutcher can claim membership—have a vested interest in being boring so some off-hand comment won't be misinterpreted and come off as controversial or provocative, so boring is the accepted default.)
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