Danah Boyd is doing an informal survey of people’s thoughts on Twitter. I had been meaning to post some random thoughts on it anyway — that is, in addition to the random thoughts I post on it — so now I can do so and feel like I’m doing something useful!

1. Why do you use Twitter? What do you like/dislike about it?

I use Twitter to publish thoughts that are too small to warrant a proper blog post. I use it to follow the thoughts and experiences of various friends, acquaintances, and interesting people. I use it to hear about things as they happen (e.g., the VA Tech shootings, the Digg/HD-DVD flap), even when I’m away from the computer or TV or radio. I use Twitter to reestablish and reaffirm my sense of connectedness with all the random people that make up the Internet; it’s a form of online communion.

The problem with Twitter is that it’s almost too random; it’s difficult to find anyone specific without poking through your friends’ lists of friends and hoping for the best. The randomness and tenuous networks of Twitter may be part of its appeal, but it’s not so great when you actually want to do something specific, and can’t.

2. Who do you think is reading your Tweets? Is this the audience you want? Why/why not? Tell me anything you think of relating to the audience for your Tweets.

One of the unusual things about Twitter is that unlike blogs or other public social profiles, you have a pretty good idea of who your audience is, or at least who your regulars are. Mine are mostly real-life friends, some folks that I met at Minnebar, and some random (but very nice) strangers.

The only people that I truly wish were in my audience are the ones with spare iminlikewithyou invites for me.

3. How do you read others’ Tweets? Do you read all of them? Who do you read/not read and why? Do you know them all?

I read Tweets through Twitteriffic when I’m at home, and by text message when I’m out. Because both of these formats are push, I do see all of the tweets that come at me; I’ve had to leave (silence) a few bot-driven Twitterers in order to keep my traffic under control. I don’t know all of the people whose Tweets I read, but I do know what some of them are having for dinner and watching on TV. For some reason, postings about everyday minutiae don’t seem as frivolous on Twitter they do on blogs, LiveJournal, Facebook, etc.

4. What content do you think is appropriate for a Tweet? What is inappropriate? Have you ever found yourself wanting to Tweet and then deciding against it? Why?

What’s appropriate for Twitter is the same as what’s appropriate for the rest of the Web, which is the same as what’s appropriate for any public forum: if you don’t want your mother or your boss to hear about it, don’t post it.

I’ve gotten pretty good over the years at knowing where my boundaries are, so I usually don’t need to second-guess my Tweets. The only times I’ve decided against posting are when I feel like I’m getting a little too stream-of-conscious or spammy. I can convince myself that people are interested in the minutiae of my life, but I can’t believe that they want to swim in a veritable sea of my posts.

5. Are your Tweets public? Why/why not? How do you feel about people you don’t know coming across them? What about people you do know?

Again, I try not to post anything I don’t feel comfortable making public, so public it is. If I don’t want people to know about something, I keep it to myself.

6. What do i need to know about why Twitter is/is not working for you or your friends?

When I first saw Twitter, I thought it was just .plan files for the Web 2.0 generation. And it is. But no one on a VAX ever thought to finger everyone on the network, all at once, and feed the collected .plans of everyone I know to my cell phone (or if they did, they probably crashed the server and got yelled at by the sysadmins). I’m sure that a year from now, we’ll all have abandoned Twitter for the next novel form of online interaction, but for now, it’s proving to be an awfully nice way to keep in touch.