In what has to be the least shocking finding in scientific history, market research firm Pear Analytics has found that 40% of Twitter messages are “pointless babble”. The BBC reports on this new social media survey, which could actually mean very good things for the still-new social outlet. Pear found that most Tweets were either babble, or IM-style messages. Only 8.7% of sent messages had any “value”, as Pear defined it.
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In order to conduct this study, Pear yanked 2,000 random messages and split them into one of six categories. All messages either counted as news, spam, self-promotion, pointless babble, conversational, or 'pass-along' value. The problem with this measuring system should be obvious; only the messages with 'pass along' value were considered to have any sort of value by Pear.
The fact of the matter is, Twitter is a social media site. None of the messages sent through it have any concrete value, save for the value placed upon them by the persons sending and reading them. The fact that people are willing to use Twitter to share whatever random thoughts happen to be on the top of their head at the time of messaging is a good thing for the website. That's what's going to keep Twitter in business.
Every tweet isn't going to be sent from some Iranian revolutionary or Nobel laureate. Those messages are more interesting to more people, but they're also few and far between. Pointless babble is the lifeblood of social media outlets, and it is the only reason any of them are around when the revolutionaries and visionaries around the world need them to spread a message. Without millions of John Q. Internets sending out tweets to warn their friends whenever they eat a sandwich or have a bowel movement, Twitter would never have gotten to where it is right now.
Pear Analytics intends to repeat this study every quarter to see if usage trends change, but I can tell you right now that they're wasting their time. Things will always fluctuate, but the vast majority of messages on Twitter will never have value to anyone but the people they are sent by and meant for. Human communication is usually pretty banal and boring, but that doesn't mean it's without value. Sometimes its just about the magic of social interaction.
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And a little pointless babble here and there never hurt anyone.