Ego Surfin’

It’s pretty unseemly to make a big deal of how many Twitter followers (or Facebook friends, or Tesla cars) one has, but I have to confess that lately I’ve been spending a lot of time refreshing the Top 100 list on Twitdir, especially as I started to pull ahead of Scoble and Calacanis in the race for the most followers on Twitter.
It’s a stupid thing to care about, I know, but I have an ego (really? no kidding), and knowing that over 21,000 people are following me is kind of cool. Knowing I’m second only to Barack Obama is humbling. Trying to come up with a way to keep all those people entertained is terrifying.

Thanks to @jbulava who made me this graph on Trendrr:

I now know that I will never catch up with Barack (I’m fine with that), that Calacanis can’t overtake me no matter how much stuff he gives away (ha ha), and that Scoble will probably drink both our milkshakes sooner or later (sigh).

I wonder if I could get more followers if I wore a flag pin?

I’d love to pretend that the numbers don’t matter to me. It seems crass to worry about how many people follow me on Twitter, but in my business numbers are all that matter. Shows survive or get cancelled depending on the numbers. Advertisers pay by the numbers. Most importantly for me, I need an audience. It’s what motivates me. It’s much more fun preaching to a full house than a bunch of empty pews. My wife says I’m not fully awake unless there are thousands of people watching or listening. I’m afraid she’s right. So while I know I’m not supposed to care how many people are following me on Twitter, I’m actually glowing inside. Especially since Twitter is the flavor of the month.

Twitter LogoA lot of ink has been spilled trying to explain Twitter. If you’re in the dark about why this odd little service has captured the attention of the digerati, CommonCraft’s video explanation, Twitter in Plain English, or Zappo’s CEO Tony Hsieh’s Quick Start Guide are good places to start.

Part of the difficulty in explaining Twitter is that it can be used in many different ways. Some use it as a sort of IM service. This is, I think, the least interesting spin and I generally don’t follow those folks. Others, like Scoble, Calacanis, and even Obama, I guess, use it mostly to promote what they’re up to. I call it personality spam, and it’s not terribly offensive as long as the personality is doing interesting things. A talented few, like Merlin Mann, use Twitter to entertain the troops, bless ’em.

I, like most folks, use Twitter as a mini-blog with an admittedly funky commenting system. It’s easier to write four or five 140 character blog posts throughout the day, than to actually think through a larger post. That’s how I write to Twitter, but I also read Twitter to keep up with what’s going on. I follow about 300 folks, mostly web mavens, not for social reasons, but to stay on top of fast breaking ideas in tech, politics, and society. Twitter has become my primary source of information about these trends. That’s one of the interesting things about Twitter – you can read it for different reasons than you write to it. And everyone who subscribes to Twitter can customize the service to make it what they want it to be.

I realize that many people don’t care about Twitter. That’s why I segregate my Tweets from the rest of the blog, but because it’s my most common form of posting I also preserve those Tweets here. There’s also a group, like Steve Gillmor, who believe that Twitter is the most important social network out there. More important, even, than Facebook. I agree. But I’ll try not to spam you with my opinions on that score. Unless you’d like to help me stay ahead of Scoble and Calacanis. In which case, join Twitter and follow me at:

To keep from spamming people on that account, I’ve also set up a TWiT Live account where I’ll be posting information about upcoming video feeds for the new TWiT TV channel:

I won’t offer you a Macbook Air, but I do promise to do my best to post interesting, useful stuff.

Other Twittering TWiTs worth following:

Anyone I’ve left out?

27 Replies to “Ego Surfin’”

  1. I only joined twitter because Calacanis and yourself talked so much about it on TWiT. However, I’m about to unsubscribe from Calacanis, as I feel he is using the service like a spammer.
    You have found the right balance between expressing your ideas / thoughts that your follower would be interested in hearing, and spouting any idea in your head / thing you see.
    Keep the feeds limited but interesting

  2. Leo. I’ve only started using it (twitter) this week and mainly because of the TWIT conversations. I find however out of the 50+ people I’ve started following, you and a handful of others make it worth continuing to try. There is a lot of flotsam and jetsam out. Fan from waaayyyyy back. I enjoy your shows. Looking forward to your live videocasts.

  3. “I’m about to unsubscribe from Calacanis, as I feel he is using the service like a spammer”
    Totally agree, his Mahalo crap was really irritating, wonder how many more will unsubscribe now that it looks like he won’t be giving away a Macbook Air

  4. Yea I a going to unsubscribe to both Calacanis and Scoble… They spam the crap out of twitter and it’s getting annoying what Calacanis is doing. Leo keep up the good work!

  5. Hey Leo,
    I’m really getting into Twitter. I agree with the others about Calacanis – his name IS Spam. And someone has got to break his “!” key. That’s why I don’t subscribe to Scobilizer.
    You have to get Amber to Tweet more. Inhatko is pretty funny.
    I’ve limited my following – I want to make sure the feed is worth getting first. I’m also surprised by random people who have decided to follow me. One’s even from Maui. That’s way cool, dude.

  6. I recently began using twitter for the reasons mentioned above, sure, but also as a marketing tool for my blog CHIPNIT (link above). If you have enough good followers, and lets face it, most Twitter users right now could be considered semi-early adopters and are probably good followers, then every time you have a good idea that gets people thinking, you have a guaranteed audience.
    When I post something interesting on my blog, and then twitter about the same idea, all of a sudden that is at least a few people who will immediately pick up the story. If it is really something worthwhile (and I always hope it is) then who knows what those followers may do with it. Digg it, link to it, pass it on, whatever. It really is amazing how many different ways there are to use such a simple system. Or, I think the more corrects way to describe this is that the fact that it is so simple, allows there to be so many ways for Twitter to be used.

  7. Hey Leo, It’s good to have you back. When are you planning to announce the winner of the Indaba contest?

  8. Leo,
    I found this post very interesting and it builds on the context of your several conversations about Twitter in almost every netcast. One important them that I have taken from your discussions is that you can build communities around yourself — not just industries or markets. It seems to me that using it as either strictly broadcasting or strictly personal would be a mistake; the sweet spot is somewhat of a mixture. (which is why you now have 2 twitter accounts)

  9. Leo! C’mon. You have long said that Merlin’s Twitters are hilarious (which they are). Merlin Mann. You left out Merlin.

  10. You’ve left out John Gruber, Moltz, and Shawn King. Granted, they may be viewed (in a certain light) as competitors; but so are Tom and Molly and Veronica.

  11. “I’m about to unsubscribe from Calacanis, as I feel he is using the service like a spammer”
    Ditto, no longer following him, it was getting a bit too much!
    It’s interesting to hear how you guys use Twitter. I have not really used it much though since none of my friends in SA use it. Somehow it’s just not popular here. Everybody’s on Facebook, but I guess they’re yet to discover Twitter…

  12. I was going to say you forgot to give Jason “MacBook Air” Calacanis another plug. Some people here think he’s a spammer but I tend to find at least half the stuff he sends out entertaining, even if it is just a trick to get me to Mahalo.
    TWiT on. =)

  13. I got rid of Jason too, I found the posts a bit spammish and the giveaways never came. Dvoraks is more personal and he follows a lot of people which makes it more interactive than just sticking to a few tech friends

  14. I agree – Calacanis is just too much and had to go, though I was surprised to see he automatically followed me as soon as I followed him – a bot I presume. Twitter is worth if for Merlin alone. I found it particulalrly useful keeping up to date with your Tassie trip Leo, as an Australian. Dvorak is always great

  15. You forgot the most important one…ME!
    Isn’t that what social media is all about? Couldn’t resist.
    Calacanis is harmless. Really. Not a bad guy, just tremendously motivated and willing to go a step beyond most. If you don’t like the drip-drip-drip, just don’t follow, which is what is so cool about Twitter…you control the flow at all times.
    (I’m a major social media skeptic, btw…and I think Twitter is the first brilliant concept in a long time…it’s the 140 character angle)
    You’re the best, Leo. Can’t wait for the new stuff. Always first class.

  16. Hi Leo,
    I, personally, would not know what to do if you stopped posting on Twitter. All your stuff is educational and entertaining, just like you ;).
    P.S. Am firming up our guests for this week’s show, can’t wait to get back in the electronic saddle!

  17. Can you recommend clients for WinXP & Leopard? Oh, and also for iPhone. I googled for some recommendations, and never really found anyone talking about killer apps …

  18. Merlin is easily the best reason to join Twitter (no offense Leo). Though I don’t know how I justify that the guy I listen to on “productivity” is also the guy responsible for a large percentage of my goofing off on-line (the videos on and now listening to the You Look Nice Today podcast especially).

  19. Hi Leo,
    I also joined twitter after the constant discussions about it on TWiT. I also use it “to stay on top of fast breaking ideas in tech, politics, and society”. Im struggling to keep up tho and keep having to take a beak for a week at a time, but i will settle into it.
    I just wish i actually had friends that were into it so i wasnt just following all the tech people listed here.
    Can you imagine how many people you have brought to twitter, and how you have helped get not just your own followers up, but others as well. Do you think Twitter would have even half the amount of users if you hadnt helped promote it?
    And i’m glad you have an ego, it works to all our advantages.
    Keep it up, thanks a bunch.

  20. I have been using twitter for about a month or so now, I find that following a bunch of people can lead you to some pretty intresting information.
    I’m subscribed to Leo, and a bunch of others.
    However, I’ve stopped following Dave Winer, he posts
    way too much! 🙂

  21. Thank you, thank you, thank you Leo for leaving Twitter out of this Sunday’s TWIT. The show is great, but I couldn’t stand to listen much longer if the Twitter conversation continued at it’s previous pace. Twitter is a time-wasting fad among the Technorazzi, some who are need of constant ego-stroking.

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