I've been a Dodgeball user for about 9 months now and it's sort of lame because I only have one friend, Frank, who is also doing it. It's particularly dorky and pathetic when we're out together and we dodgeball each other our location.* (Yeah, I know.) I've tried to get other friends to use it, but it's just not something any of my friends (read 30-somethings who are mostly married and consider 10pm a "late night out" -- sorry guys!) find intriguing. So my friend and I decided to experiment with it on our own. Almost immediately, he became a power user. These days, he's often in the top 10 list of SF's most active users on the Dodgeball site. He does it because he likes to review the history of the bars, restaurants, nightclubs and events he's been to. (I've noticed guys out here love to keep lists or is it not a West Coast thing and just true of guys generally? hmm... maybe.)
Even though I've never actually met him out at a bar or restaurant when he posts his dodgeball location (which I guess is the general idea), I've noticed that when we see each other in person one of us will remember where the other one went and ask about the food or the ambiance of a particular bar, or whatever.
And then I read this Clive Thompson essay that described what I've been experiencing so well. Here's a snippet.
So why has Twitter been so misunderstood? Because it's experiential. Scrolling through random Twitter messages can't explain the appeal. You have to do it — and, more important, do it with friends. (Monitoring the lives of total strangers is fun but doesn't have the same addictive effect.) Critics sneer at Twitter and Dodgeball as hipster narcissism, but the real appeal of Twitter is almost the inverse of narcissism. It's practically collectivist — you're creating a shared understanding larger than yourself. linkFrank and I started using Twitter about 3 months ago, and although I probably post twice a week at most to the colleagues I am connected to there, I post a lot more often directly to Frank, sometimes two or three times a day and, over time, we've become better friends because of it. It's hard to explain, but Thompson's essay does a good job, "Individually, most Twitter messages are stupefyingly trivial. But the true value of Twitter — and the similarly mundane Dodgeball, a tool for reporting your real-time location to friends — is cumulative."
I wish I could get my New York friends to twitter with me. It would be nice to know what they're up to and it wouldn't take too much of their time or mine at 140 characters or less.
* P.S. The way I wrote that made Frank sound as pathetic as me. He's not. He has other friends on dodgeball besides me. As I stated above, I don't. I'm the dork. back up