I think Andrew Baron is a smart guy (although I think Rocketboom was better with Amanda Congdon, oh well), and I guess he’s got the right to auction off his Twitter account if he wants to, although what he’s trying to accomplish by that is unclear.
But he left one interesting clue in a comment on my blog, which I am promoting here, as a small insight:
[comment on Can You Sell A Twitter Account]
Hey Stowe, I agree with you a great deal, though for me, Twitter is just like your blog here, for me. I’ve always had your subscription in my bloodlines [bloglines?] and have been happy to see you the several times we have run into each other. Twitter on the other hand, is not the place to get personal for me. Facebook is more so - networks are different. Email is the most important for me.
Andrew might be a bit of an introvert, and the wide open, sprawling, chaotic party atmosphere might not work well for him.
But I think its a bit odd that he doesn’t consider it a social network, or a means to communicate with one. Yes, Twitter has the following/follower dichotomy, but that is a reflection of the way that charisma and popularity work in all social schemes, everywhere.
The last line is most revealing: “Email is the most important to me.” An asynchronous, completely private, one:one (primarily) interaction, without any prying eyes.
Perhaps its just a style thing, but I think Twitter is difficult to explain, and hard to adjust to, at least for some large subset of the population. But for those of us who dig it, it’s like email for the other side of the brain.
And others are jumping in on the discussion, like Chris Brogan, who compares Andrew’s Twitter account to an online community or a blog:
If you’re reading Web Worker Daily or Copyblogger or Engadget or TechCrunch or another three or four dozen influential blogs, you’re reading a multi-author publication. So, if you align yourself as part of that community, and that community is sold to a larger publication, or if it merges, etc, do you just go along and stay a part of that community?
My guess is yes. In situations where there are people deeply tied to a publication, but there’s still a sense of more than one person stirring the pot (Copyblogger *is* Brian Clark, but it’s also his guest writers, and could ultimately be taken over by someone else), I think we can move as a community with it. I think.
But As a Twitter Account?
Not sure if Andrew will get his money. But then again, if he got even $100, that’s kind of interesting, because who’s out there thinking it’s worth $100? Not because ANDREW isn’t worth that, but what’s a Twitter account? It’s like selling your phone number. Doesn’t mean much unless you pick up when I call. Right?
Communities Aren’t Locked In
If this decade’s web technology legacy tells us anything, it’s that community is fluid and mercurial. Friendster to MySpace to Facebook to (we’re still waiting for the next one), and we’re still moving. We can jump in a heartbeat if you bug us.
So, Chris asked but didn’t answer the question: But a Twitter Account? It’s not really like a blog, at all, is it? Not at least the sort of blogs that people want to buy. And it’s not a community. The community is Twitter itself. The users have their own accounts, and can switch their connections in a second. So, Chris is right to find similarities in the fickleness of Friendster users and what is likely to happen to Andrew’s following, post sale.
It’s really not a condo you can sell, or a domain name, or even a phone number. It’s like trying to sell your freckles.