Will I still be tweeting in 2013?

A new phenomenon has occurred in my Twitter timeline of
late. These are tweets from people I don’t follow that are labelled ‘Promoted
Tweets’. When I see one, I block the sender. At present, they are rare enough
for this to be only mildly irritating. But, as someone who remembers email in
the days before spam (well, actually, I remember the days before email, and even the days before personal computers...), I worry that things could change fast.

When discussing Twitter with fellow academics, one thing
they always ask is whether it isn’t just another tedious thing that you have to
wade through, like email. Email is currently the curse of academics everywhere:
in her New Year’s blogpost,
Athene Donald noted her resolution to delete spam emails unread first thing in
the day, and commentators on her blog clearly resonate to this, as I do. I have
been cheerfully telling people that
the wonderful thing about Twitter is that you only get messages from people you
choose to follow, and it's not at all like email. Other people can’t get at you. Well, they can, a bit, in that
they can get into your ‘mentions’ list by mentioning you, but your timeline has
always been totally under your control. But the folks at Twitter have other
plans, as explained here.

Needless to say, Twitter is a business. It’s not my
God-given right to have a free Twitter account. If I engage with the system, I
need to play by its rules. But I really am not that addicted. To me, having to
fend off people who want my time, money or attention is extremely tedious.
Twitter has been a delight precisely because it has been virtually free of such
irritants. Make Twitter more like email, and I will just leave. Really.