[Air-L] Trivial tweeting

Scott Golder (AoIR) aoir at redlog.net
Wed Jul 1 08:39:58 PDT 2009

Right, but the question is, who gets listened to when it comes to 
norming, and who is listening?  Suppose I make a normative statement 
("Your apps really shouldn't be posting to Twitter") -- who listens to me?

You could frame it in terms of networks; the people who I share 
reciprocal follower relations with (my strongest ties) are probably the 
most likely to agree.  And to the extent that we have common alters who 
share that opinion, locally-dense parts of the network are likely to 
coincide with different norms.  Note the huge homophily/influence 
problem here, as elsewhere.

But I also think that thinking of networks can be counterproductive when 
what we want to think about is groups.  Even though Twitter doesn't have 
group boundaries built into the technology, I still think that groups 
exist, and we'd do well to acknowledge that.  The problem is that all 
the groups are streamed together, and when groups have contradictory 
norms about what is ok to post, participants are faced with an 
impossible decision.  This can be interesting analytically because as a 
researcher you can observe how people prioritize their groups, but as 
the participant, it can be a struggle.

The recent Facebook trend of taking surveys ("Which X are you") -- which 
happily seems to have died down -- is another good example.  Groups who 
use Facebook for purely recreational reasons might be more comfortable 
with this (taking surveys is a key part of what FB is _for_) and people 
who use it as a less formal version of Linked In might be less 
comfortable with it.

It's tempting to look at Twitter and see nodes! edges! It's a network! 
But I like the idea of stepping back and seeing it as an overlapping of 
groups that are still bounded, but by glass walls.


PS. My first post didn't make it (sent from scott at redlog instead of 
aoir at redlog)  Here it is:
         I would add #4, play.  Recently, I have personally enjoyed 
#internetbeatles and
         #robotpickuplines, for example.  It's frivolous and fun, but 
frivolity and fun are
         important parts of life too, right?
                   Rather than worrying about people who tweet mundane 
things, the more pernicious
         threat is applications that use Twitter for broadcasting users' 
in-app status updates, such
         as their current level in the spy game.  I have complained this 
in the past, and I only
         see it getting worse as more and more apps (especially mobile 
ones) realize they can
         free ride on Twitter as a channel for notifications.
                   This suggests to me that Twitter apps are going to 
have to become more like email
         clients.  I want better filters for users, topics (#hashtags), 
better threading, and archiving.
          It would be interesting if, in addition to email, newsgroups 
and RSS feeds, email clients
         started making Twitter an option.  Thunderbird's open source - 
anyone want to collaborate
         on building Twitter support into it?
                   PS. peanut butter sandwich, chocolate milk and a 
double espresso.

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