49 CommentsMetablogging / By Scamp /

My Twitter Experiment

The anime blogosphere is dying. Well, perhaps dying is too alarmist a word, but there are certainly signs the anime blogosphere is regressing. There have been many theories tossed out for why this may be the case. Blogging in general is losing its relevance, equally so in the anime world. Perhaps the 2006-8 period of growth was unusual, given a sprout of extremely popular anime, speedsubbing and people like Danny Choo popularising anime blogging. Another theory is that social netoworking sites like Twitter give anime fans a personal outlet to express their opinions on anime without the need to set up a blog. I’m a pretty active twitter user, managing OVER 9000 tweets in about 16 months (actually the number is 8,694 tweets at time of writing, but give me this one time to abuse an internet meme). So I decided to run a little experiment. By not using twitter for a month, what effect would it have on blogging and my interaction with the anime blogging community?

First, the self-imposed rules

  1. I cannot write anything on twitter for a month from the 23rd February to 23rd March
  2. Anything I would have written on twitter I must instead write inside this blog post
  3. I can still visit twitter. However I obviously can’t @-reply anyone and I can’t either write these @-replies in this post nor do anything else do somehow reply to what they’re saying on twitter (except in emergencies)

Below this spoiler is the list of tweets I would have written over the course of the month. Fair warning: there’s a rather lot of them.

Show ▼

Findings

Judging by the amount of tweets I wrote in this post, my urge to use twitter didn’t diminish in any way. Any days where twitter activity either dropped or rose were merely to do whether I had anything to tweet about, not to do with my inactivity. My twitter etiquette dropped pretty quickly though, such as the use of hashtags or keeping to the 140 character limit.

What did change drastically over the course of this experiment was reading other peoples tweets. When I first left twitter, my urge to visit the site dropped instantly. I would go on perhaps once a day to check if I had any @-replies then not bother to read any older tweets. But by around 2/3rds of the way through the experiment, I started visiting twitter a lot more. The urge to @-reply people on twitter obviously increased massively and I found myself counting down the days which I could go back on the site.

My interaction with other anime blogs changed slightly too. Again, there was no obvious change in the first few weeks on the experiment, but come the 2/3rd way mark, I started to visit and comment on blogs I had never done so before, such as Metanorn and Sekijitsu. I also subscribed to a load of new anime blogs too. I guess the reasoning you could draw from here is that, with such little opportunities to interact with other anime folk on the internet, I started to search for more people to talk to.

Beyond subscribing to more anime blogs though, I didn’t necessarily do anything else to interact with more anime fans. I still don’t bother with IRC groups, nor did I start posting on any anime forums. A bunch of folk on twitter set up group anime viewings sessions over Skype back over Christmas, which I was technically one of the founders of, so I still interacted with some of the people on twitter over those Skype sessions. However I only go on once a week for shipping wars and Terribad anime (Karaoke sessions can go fuck a goat) and my involvement with the Skype sessions didn’t increase nor decrease over the course of the experiment.

For my own anime blog, it’s difficult to tell whether going on twitter changed how I approached blogging. I wasn’t any more nor less inclined to reply to all my commenters. Nor did twitter folk come flocking to the blog comment section when their saviour no longer graced them with his presence on twitter. The comments section remains a place mainly for those who don’t follow me on twitter at all. This does bring up the question of whether people who follow someone on twitter are therefore less likely to comment on an anime blog, but that comes with the mistaken assumption that those who follow you on twitter necessarily care about what you write on your blog.

There was a suggestion from a commenter that leaving twitter was like removing training weights, resulting in a massive improvement in my posts. Now I’m perfectly happy with the idea that my already glorious posts have somehow improved beyond their current standing, but I think it’s a mistake to suggest that this could be because I left twitter. One of the reasons for any apparent improvement is partly down to asking people on twitter who didn’t read my blog why they didn’t like it, which was hugely insightful and useful for helping me improve the quality of my posts (the advice was mainly to tone back on the rage and cynicism and do more tongue in cheek). Obviously though, if my post quality experiences a dip in the next few weeks, then perhaps we might be onto something here.

Ultimately the experiment is rather inconclusive. It would need a larger sample of people taking part for perhaps a greater amount of time to produce any theories with more weight to them. However I kinda hope people don’t do that, because I’d hate for as soon as I go back to twitter for everyone else to suddenly leave. What findings I’ve got suggest that a lack of interaction with a smaller group of people on twitter creates an insular atmosphere where I’m less likely to read more anime blogs. Despite following OVER 9000 people on twitter (actual number is 159), the number of people I @-reply with any regularity is closer to 25. There is also more inconclusive evidence that suggests that post quality possibly increases with the less time I spend on twitter.

In short, twitter creates an insular group of anime fans who become more interested in their small sphere than interacting or creating anything for a wider audience. Basically, the exact same thing stuff like IRC channels or closed forums have achieved in the past. Swings and roundabouts. History repeating itself.

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49 Comments

  1. Posted March 23, 2011 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

    I feel as though if everyone left Twitter, it wouldn’t really change much in the sphere…we’d just be less able to talk to each other. And we’d be a less tight-knit circle of anime fans, I suppose.
    If you consider us that in the first place.

    I don’t think I’ll ever subscribe to the idea that Twitter killed aniblogging, ha. If you can say it all in a tweet or two, it probably wouldn’t have made it into being a full blog post anyway, etc.

    But yay, you’re back.
    It’s not like we like you or anything.

    • Scamp
      Posted March 23, 2011 at 11:20 pm | Permalink

      Nobody likes me :(

      Twitter is just another method of talking with people on the internet. If it left people would move to another platform.

      • Posted March 24, 2011 at 12:22 am | Permalink

        Exactly~ Dunno where we would go though.

        And Scamp, we do like youuuu.

      • Posted March 24, 2011 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

        Oho, a Deredere Moment, Scampu~?
        Maybeee we like you a bit too much…?
        So much for my Yandere qualities. *stalks*

  2. Posted March 23, 2011 at 7:12 pm | Permalink

    The end result might be as you say, and I would have to think about this to really get behind the idea (but I’m lazy), but what being on twitter does first and foremost is dilute one’s time and attention capacity. There’s likely a number of arguments based on time/attention availability which apply to different people in different phases of life, and one of those arguments might be, “does someone with more free time, blog better?” I have no opinion on it, but I know that writing takes time, and the more attention I pay to twitter (or ANY social outlet for that matter), the less I have elsewhere.

    Nice experiment btw, hope you’re happy with the findings :)

    • Scamp
      Posted March 23, 2011 at 11:25 pm | Permalink

      Dunno about that. Part of the appeal of twitter is I can leave it on in the background as I do other work. I’m generally writing a blog post while I’m on twitter. It’s distracting, but I can still multitask and get the job done

  3. Posted March 23, 2011 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

    At least for me, Twitter doesn’t kill anime blogging because Twitter and the blog are separate mediums — I approach the blog with an entirely different tone and purpose than I do Twitter. The blog enables me to explore different things than I can do on Twitter because there are fewer limits to what I can say. Personally, I like having both because I get such different things from them.

    And, actually, I’d definitely agree with your conclusion. Twitter fulfills the same purpose as an IRC group or a forum, with the bonus that it’s much more manageable and easy to duck in and out of for someone like me. When I started my blog, that’s not what I was looking to get out of it, so that and Twitter don’t really intersect in purposes for me.

    • Scamp
      Posted March 23, 2011 at 11:42 pm | Permalink

      Note that I didn’t start this experiment with any idea that I would end up with this result. In fact, I came into this on a whim with no real idea of what I was trying to prove. So any conclusions drawn aren’t me trying to fulfil an agenda or anything

  4. Posted March 23, 2011 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

    Oh Twitter again. Meh. I’m not a social person, so I just don’t get THAT into twitter. The real time atmosphere…just don’t dig it. I’d rather read long-winded posts and write long-winded posts any day.

    But even then, I don’t comment to other people much. And I’m terrible about talking to my commenters. I dunno. I talk to you, although that’s sadistic pleasure…

    • averaen
      Posted March 23, 2011 at 8:10 pm | Permalink

      “I’d rather read long-winded posts and write long-winded posts any day.”

      I’m with you entirely on that point. Reading tweets is unable to satisfy my desire to read a two thousand word ramble on why Now and Then;Here and there is good etc. I enjoy watching other people’s minds reflect in a long-winded nature on my favorite medium, anime.

  5. karry
    Posted March 23, 2011 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

    “There was a sug­ges­tion from a com­menter that leav­ing twit­ter was like remov­ing train­ing weights, res­ult­ing in a massive improve­ment in my posts.”

    Scientifically speaking – it should be the exact opposite. Instead of constructing and expressing, on twitter you are merely expressing. Just as those people who listen to audio books, instead of actually reading, engage their brains on a significantly lower level, leading to potential regress over time.

    And really, US is already full of retards and poorly educated folks, now with twitter they actually have a reason to limit their message volume. If there is something in common i noticed from my experience with many teen and young adult USians over the years – its that many of them often have trouble just reading from a page ! Read – MORE, write – MORE, learn – MORE.
    Twitter, he says…

    • Posted March 23, 2011 at 9:39 pm | Permalink

      Karry! You’re okay! I was wondering if you were alright, though I’m still not 100% if you’re Japanese or from somewhere else.

    • Scamp
      Posted March 23, 2011 at 11:47 pm | Permalink

      I don’t agree that listening to a book on tape necessarily diminishes the work or your engagement with it. Why would a radio show be any less mentally engaging than a book? The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy was a radio show before it was a book, and speaking as someone who has read/listened to both, I prefer the radio show

  6. Posted March 23, 2011 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

    I am commenting to your blog, AND watch your updates on twitter.

    Does that make me a stalker?
    It’s funny, because somtimes I can predict you upcoming posts. Like the time you were all over Legend of Black Heaven.

    A question.
    You wanted to do… podcasts or something about anime on youtube?
    What happened to that project?

    • Scamp
      Posted March 23, 2011 at 11:48 pm | Permalink

      It’s on hold for now as I have other projects.

      I did buy a new microphone though. Remember it was just a new years resolution. I technically therefore have 9 months to still stick to that resolution

  7. Posted March 23, 2011 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

    As valuable as twitter can be for casting pointers to information out into the data stream, I ultimately find it unsatisfactory, because it isn’t capable of sustaining exchanges that are much richer than bumper sticker slogans.

    • Scamp
      Posted March 23, 2011 at 11:49 pm | Permalink

      But that’s exactly what it does well. I like bumper sticker slogans about anime. Twitter gives me that and a platform to make my own

      • Posted March 24, 2011 at 1:23 am | Permalink

        :< I'm tired of bumper stickers. You can express an unsubstantiated opinion, but then I want more, for example… What caused you to have that opinion? Blogs (and even the comment format) allow one to provide support for your idea. They also enable one to admit that the idea only goes so far; you might be unsure about how something fits in, or even be of two minds, or at least be willing to allow for a restricted form of counter-argument. You just can't do that in twitter.

        In short, I find twitter not only a less expressive medium, it specifically seems to lack the ability to express complex, rational thought.

        On the other hand, I'm not against twitter. I think it does linking well, and the net effect of many people linking to common resources by adding whatever commentary they want is interesting as well. I just think of it as dangerously close to a sugary snack version of communication.

      • Posted March 24, 2011 at 6:36 am | Permalink

        agree 4324820490293409230%

  8. Posted March 23, 2011 at 8:27 pm | Permalink

    Your timing is impeccable. You abstain from Twitter in time to avoid the Madoka spoiler shenanigans, and return when it gets suspended indefinitely.

    Also, I’ve had a lifetime’s fill of Gainax heartbreaks. Enduring BS ends like Abenobashi make their successes that much sweeter.

    • Scamp
      Posted March 23, 2011 at 11:51 pm | Permalink

      Please don’t mention Madoka’s delayed ending and the Abenobashi ending in the same comment. The planets might align and they’ll end being of similar quality

  9. Posted March 23, 2011 at 8:53 pm | Permalink

    Funny story, I spent the last month off Twitter too!

    So, have people stopped writing banal crap on Twitter yet?

    • Posted March 23, 2011 at 9:19 pm | Permalink

      Every tweet is now very meaningful.

    • Scamp
      Posted March 23, 2011 at 11:50 pm | Permalink

      Not really. People still seem to think we care about their sleeping patterns

      • Posted March 24, 2011 at 12:09 am | Permalink

        *yawn* good post… but I think it’s time for bed. Good night everyone!

      • Scamp
        Posted March 24, 2011 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

        At least you still said “good post”, which is already a more substantial comment than much of the dribble you find on twitter

  10. Posted March 23, 2011 at 9:25 pm | Permalink

    Huh, interesting experiment~ It’s tempting to just get nice and cozy with your small group of aniblogging friends and not branch out, but that’s true with so many different things..not just because of twitter. Cut any socializing sort of site out and I’m sure anyone would feel more compelled to seek out more people outside their little community.

    • Scamp
      Posted March 23, 2011 at 11:59 pm | Permalink

      But they’d probably form little communities elsewhere. Heck, we form little communities in the the aniblogosphere anyway without twitter. Not sure if I’d class that as a good thing or a bad thing, but it’s human nature I guess

  11. Posted March 23, 2011 at 10:59 pm | Permalink

    I remember my own 4 month hiatus from everything anime late last year, but instead of missing twitter, I really missed blogging instead. I suppose that the bigger thing will be missed the most among the two, so I can’t really compare that feeling to you slightly missing twitter during your experiment.

    I always viewed twitter as the “backstage” portion to blogging’s “show stage”. It’s more colloquial, more relaxed, more personal, like the water cooler area of an office. Whatever I place in twitter is too damn short or stupid for posting, so it’s the perfect place for me to cater to that side of my thoughts.

    Even for the comments on blogs I view it the same way. Whereas in twitter I can act and talk casually, in every comment section of actual blogs, I’m all business. To me this is great, since twitter allows me to just loosen the tie a bit and put my feet up.

    But yea, interesting experiment. I was wondering where you went for a minute there. That Appleseed tweet sure would have come in handy for the preview, since I mentioned how it was delayed but I had no source >_<

    • Scamp
      Posted March 24, 2011 at 12:01 am | Permalink

      I’ve only been on one extended hiatus since I started blogging. A months break for my leaving school exams, so they were kinda important. I don’t think I could take that long a break off nowadays. Even the weeks break I had last autumn was weird

  12. Posted March 23, 2011 at 11:01 pm | Permalink

    Just wanted to say pal, real good on you to donate blood. Supplies are perpetually low & there’s a constant need for every blood type.

    As for my interactions with blogs, I know that the only REAL indicator of my presence on any particular blog as a commenter is whether it is following a particular show that I’m watching that season. I start every season in broad strokes, only for what I watch to dwindle by the end therefore limiting my ability to comment on posts about them. The exception are more editorial type blogs and posts like 2DTeleidoscope’s.

    Heh heh heh, fuck a goat…

    • Scamp
      Posted March 24, 2011 at 12:04 am | Permalink

      That’s something that only really applies to episodic blogs, and any episodic blog that only does episodic posts generally cover enough shows so that you’ll be following at least one of them. Unless you’re one of those too cool for school folk who don’t follow weekly airing anime

  13. Posted March 24, 2011 at 2:05 am | Permalink

    Twitter is overall, a very boring site. Used from a personal account, you are just portraying yourself to be a lifeless little dolt who thinks every single thing in his life is significant:
    “Ah, just woke up. Going to get some coffee :D”
    “OMG, my boss is sooo annoying !!!”
    “Thespacekeyinmykeyboardisn’tworking”

    And then there’s anitweeting. This is most probably tiny exchanges that are offensively short. I’m not an ardent Tweeter, so my experiences are limited. “LOLZ, LEVEL E IS THA BEST EVAR!!!” somehow seems to be too… standard for me. Anitweeting to promote your blog (hey, I’m still a noob, I can do shit and blame it on my experience) is the best option IMO. You cn get reader reactions as well.

    Now, Facebook is something that would be perfect for anime discussion if people were extraveted about their otakuness and ready to reveal their names to the international anime community. I would think people would be far more interested in talking to “Danny Choo” than “xXdc345Xx. In fact, that was one of the reasons for him skyrocketing in popularity. It offers a better platform for interaction. But then again, I would never go out in the open.

    I’m only a 3-month old aniblogger, but I have enough opinion for years to come, so meh… Wish me luck for the next 21 months.

    • Scamp
      Posted March 24, 2011 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

      People won’t use facebook because that’s their real persona while twitter is their anime persona. I know I don’t like to mix the two up and those I know on twitter feel the same way.

      Also man, there’s a bit of hate for twitter on here. As I hope my tweets on this post show, you can use twitter to be witty. It’s just there’s also a band of people who use twitter to inform us of their sleeping patterns. It all depends on what you make of it

      • Posted March 25, 2011 at 2:04 am | Permalink

        Well, yea, I’m open about my otakivity on Facebook and I don’t find it embarassing and people don’t look down upon me for that. But telling them I run an anime blog? Oh, I wouldn’t go there.

        Witty, yes, but far too little. Doubling the tweet size would change things dramatically. It would enable more civilized conversations.

        Not just sleeping patterns. The celebrity updates are the most irksome IMO.

  14. Posted March 24, 2011 at 3:05 am | Permalink

    I thought I saw your comments pop up on different anime blogs; so that’s what you were doing. Will that keep happening even though you’re back on Twitter?

    • Scamp
      Posted March 24, 2011 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

      Well, I’m subscribed now, so yeah. Once I latch onto a blog it’s hard to get me off again

  15. Dez691
    Posted March 24, 2011 at 4:46 am | Permalink

    The conclusion that using twitter causes one to read less anime blogs might be true, considering I found myself unsubscribing from a lot of blogs ever since I started using twitter in December.

  16. Posted March 24, 2011 at 5:35 am | Permalink

    I don’t comment much here but nice post! Twitter for me is just like a massive chat room, giving us quick access to people. It is a good tool to update people on a post update, then again I just found Google reader and it takes care of that part for you too.

    If people did drop twitter all together they would just go to MSN or some other message service, even Facebook if they really wanted.

    But I can see where people would rather Tweet about a show vs commenting on a blog, I really like how closer I have gotten with the Skype watch sessions! Really fun stuff the Karaoke yeah not for everyone lol xD Poor goat!

    Anyway I think you are onto something here :D

    Metanorn loves new visitors! WOoo!!

    • Scamp
      Posted March 24, 2011 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

      Google reader is the greatest invention on the internet. Seriously, the amount that helps when reading blogs is immense. I gotta write a post explaining how to use it so those uninitiated will discover it’s glory

      • Posted March 25, 2011 at 2:06 am | Permalink

        Please do. I’m still struggling on how to operate it. I don;t subscribe because Im too much of a noob to find where the feeds go.

        e-mail Subscription PWNS.

  17. Posted March 24, 2011 at 6:46 am | Permalink

    cant really comment since im not a twitter user. and never will be. if someone’s going to express a thought i’d prefer they do it more completely. otherwise i don’t see it as being anymore useful than status updates on facebook. but whatever, to each his own.

    hmm…in the past 30 days i think you’ve posted here a bit more often? then again there are plenty other reasons one would post more often or post less often ;x ah well.

    hey im an irc user ;x dont knock it just because the concept of /j, /ns and /me confuse you XD

    • Scamp
      Posted March 24, 2011 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

      rawr rawr irc rawr. The reasons I don’t like IRC are the baffling interface, the never-ending silence on the channels and that the anime communities I know on IRC aren’t very welcoming.

      But I did give it a try, and discovered I didn’t like it. I was pretty dismisive on twitter at first, but grew to love it soon enough.

  18. Posted March 24, 2011 at 11:44 am | Permalink

    If the twitter absence made you visit Metanorn; I’m mighty happy for it. xD

    Jokes aside, I keep on going on and off from twitter all the time. I don’t think I ever get any aniblogging meat out of it; rather, it’s just a place where I go hang out when I need some quick fix or simply to keep contact with the rest of aniblogosphere with whom I love to interact with. There have been times that we have taken long-winded discussions from twitter to MSN but it can never be an answer to aniblogging; for some though, it can be just some time wasting.

    According to my observations, there will be always some commentors who would thank/comment on twitter only but the regulars always comment on site and interact with us on twitter too. I think it’s complementary rather than deterrent.

  19. Posted March 24, 2011 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

    Ah. This explains why my twitter feed has been so empty lately.

  20. Posted March 24, 2011 at 10:22 pm | Permalink

    I didn’t even finally join Twitter until this month.

  21. Vivi
    Posted March 25, 2011 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

    It’s pretty interesting, seeing what you got out of abstaining from Twitter. The Skype sessions sound pretty fun!

    But I still don’t really understand Twitter, so it’s tough for me to understand the need for it, although the separation from commenters and twits is understandable. (I still don’t get how conversations would be held on Twitter though haha.)

    Tumblr all the way!

  22. Posted March 26, 2011 at 10:43 pm | Permalink

    I stopped using twitter as much when you goaded Gargron into creating thecolorless.
    I still read other peoples though, especially since I connected my phone with my account.

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