twitzophrenia: the hard road to critical mass

warren sukernek (@warrenss on twitter) wrote a post today on his blog twittermaven expressing his consternation on what he calls the 'top twitter users,' as reckoned in a recent issue of people magazine. to be fair, the people article more accurately described them as the twitter users with the most followers, but for warren, the damage was done. I learned of the post through a tweet from diane hessan (@communispaceceo), who wrote that "just reading this post made her want to cancel her twitter account."

I replied that lots of idiots drive, but that doesn't make me want to sell my car. snark aside, however, two points:

1) some metrics say nothing without context. the post headline defines top twitter users as those with the most followers. yes, britney has 4MM followers, while poor chris brogan struggles along with less than 120K. however, which _uses_ twitter more? how many of britney's followers have tweeted at all in the past week? the last month? how many does she follow back and interact with?

I've met chris maybe once. he has a twitter stream the size of a small city, but when I comment on one of his blog posts or tweets, he has never failed to respond. a metric that I would be interested in seeing that wouldn't matter to people magazine at all is some kind of interactivity measure incorporating retweets, conversations and the like. klout's service is a step in that direction.

2) diane's tweet and warren's reply to a commenter above are indicative of what I would forcedly coin 'twitzophrenia.' we, the early adopters, evangelize the potential of twitter. we entreat clients and friends to join us and shake our heads at naysayers who decry the service as an exercise in trivial egotism. at the same time, however, we have this vision of twitter as our clubhouse and look down our noses at those who joined mainly because they read some celebrity did or that it was the in thing to do.

twitter's explosive growth has come because people like us didn't wait to learn the right way to use it. who are we to criticize if people who come after us choose to use it a different way?

what do you think? can the twitterati (myself included) have it both ways?