Blog Post

In response to "The Twitter Guys": Let Them Eat Tweets (NY Times Article)

Cathy Davidson recently posted her thoughts about rapid change and the unpredictability of the near future, and linked "The Twitter Guys", and article in a recent New York Times about the founders of Twitter and how it expanded at a rate of 1,382 percent, with traffic increasing 43 percent since Oprah joined in April. 

I commented about Cathy's post:

"Five years ago, I knew a few people who didn't use e-mail. If someonehad a cell phone, it was only for emergencies. Everyone had a landlinephone.

Five years ago, my work email in-box wasn't very full, because notmany people used it.  My daughters were the only ones that "IM'd" ortexted me.  No FaceBook, no Twitter.

Things are different now.

More people are comfortable with technology. My dad's 80-somethingfriends send me e-mails.  We establish our on-line social networks,connecting with relatives and friends, old and new, by sharing oure-mail contact lists with on-line networking services.  Our contactlists are getting longer, too, as many of us have more than one e-mailaddress.

Six degrees of separation?  No.  In many cases, it is more like 3 or 4"

 

After I posted my comment to Cathy's blog, I checked my e-mail and discovered a link to another NY Times article about tweets, dated 4/16/09, by Virginia Heffernan: Let Them Eat Tweets: Why Twitter is a Trap

I especially liked her perspective:

"The ?ambient awareness? that Twitter promotes ? the feeling ofincessant online contact ? is still intact. But the emotional force ofall this contact may have changed in the context of the economiccollapse. Where once it was ?hypnotic? and ?mesmerizing? (words oftenused to describe Twitter) to read about a friend?s fever or a cousin?sjob complaints, today the same kind of posts, and from broader andbroader audiences, seem . . . threatening. Encroaching. Suffocating.Twitter may now be like a jampacked, polluted city where the ambientawareness we all have of one another?s bodies might seem picturesque tosociologists (who coined ?ambient awareness? to describe this sense ofphysical proximity) but has become stifling to those in the middle ofit."

 

In her article, Heffernan mentioned something called "Twistori".  Intrigued, I immediately rushed to the site.  If I want, I can watch streaming tweets from strangers 24/7 on my computer screen, and lets you filter tweets by feeling words.  The application was inspired by WeFeelFine, something that I blogged aboutlast year.  

 

 

 

 

 

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2 comments

<"Five years ago, I knew a few people who didn't use e-mail. If someone
had a cell phone, it was only for emergencies. Everyone had a landline
phone.>

Times are different. I was one of those people that had a cell phone for emergency situations only. Now, it's a necessity to have a cell phone with multiple features just to keep up with society. Our cell phones must receive and send text, take pictures, surf the internet, locate people, find info on the web, have a built in GPS and more...

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Hi Lynn,

Thanks for posting Virginia's view; that is very interesting. When we started the @dmlComp Twitter account to publicize the new international reach of the Digital Media and Learning Competiton, an unexpected thing happened. When the terror attacks in Mumbai happened, and when the Mandarin Oriental under construction in Shanghai caught fire, folks on my Twitter stream were providing live updates from those cities. It was certainly anxiety-inducing, but also provided a direct perspective usually not found in such events.

Twitter allows the message to go to no one in particular, so that everyone using it can consume the information directly. Before this, a loved one or proper authorities or whoever received the information would still have to
disseminate it to the general public and news outlets. This has removed a step which was a significant stumbling block to instant information, if you think that is a good thing to aim for.

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