A good friend of mine, @jeffswain, over at the five-4-six blog, posed a really tough question and I’ve been asking myself ever since:
Back in the 80s in a railroad town with a declining population, all we had was a top-40 station, (eventually) classic rock station, oldies stations, and talk radio. And of the entire catalog of classic rock songs and oldies, it seemed like the stations only played the top 40 hits of the respective eras they covered.
It wasn’t until the 90s and early 00s rolled around that things got better. Kids started bands, and we went to shows. We shared mixed tapes. There was an alternative station that broadcast in Central PA via radio and Web. It was around through my college years and first real job. I bought a ton of CDs. I went to Rolling Rock Town Fair, and I went to Warped Tour. When the station changed formats to country, it all went down the tubes. I lost touch with music. I stopped buying music. I stopped going to shows all together. I lost the better part of a decade.
Then @ronbronson, @andrewcareaga, @radiofreegeorgy, @TimNekritz, and a few other Higher Ed Critics did their The Top 100 Albums of the 2000s, and I realized it was time to crawl out from my frickin’ rock. I tried my local stations. That top-station? Crap. That classic rock one? Now 80s hair bands. The oldies one? Now a mix of 90s and 80s with a side of country. No good station to speak of.
So here I am in 2010 commuting an hour to work, realizing that the “oldies station” that plays hits that I wouldn’t have listened to in the 80s and 90s is probably all my town has left to offer. (And they just played that Bryan Adams song again for the tenth time this week.) Then it occurs to me that I don’t really need radio to keep me up-to-date; I need you. I need @dtatusko‘s blips. I need Higher Ed Critics like @andrewcareaga.
What does this have to do with why I tweet? My department, my university, my town is a like local station. The Web has top-40 rock stars. Higher ed even has it’s own top-40. With twitter we can take our ideas and remix them. Share what’s new or unique. It’s great to hear what rock stars like Chris Brogan, Seth Godin, and Jared Spool have to say. But what’s even better is responding to @jeffswain, or sharing the blogs of @chasgrundy, @shelbythayer, @aprilsheninger, or joking with @brendensparks. Twitter is my playlist for insight and entertainment.
Who we follow, what tweet, and and what we retweet is like a mix tape that we share. Twitter is not top 40 radio. It doesn’t have to play the same hits from the same rock stars 24/7, unless you want it to. Every tweet peep is a garage band, and (@micala, @marleysmom, @DebraSanborn, @tsand, @3dogmcneill, @cmykdorothy, @joelgoodman, @cyndef, all of you) I am your groupie!
Why do you tweet? Who’s on your twitter “playlist”?
Image mix tape for matt’s bday by ramsey everydaypants