[Air-L] Who to UnFollow

Bernie Hogan bernie.hogan at gmail.com
Wed Jul 1 09:55:15 PDT 2009

I think Barry makes a good point, and one that challenges some of the
earlier suggestions about "phatic communication", and one that cuts to
the quick of whether we are dealing with performance or
exhibition-based contexts. I tend to argue the latter, which is in
keeping with Barry's point: These are tiny artifacts that signify the
person, rather than imply a conversation or need for communication.
They /can/ elicit communication, but the fact that one rarely replies
to them suggests that this is not their primary function (phatic or

So Scott gets #4 (Play), and Barry get's #5: - They are a form of
self-expression, rather than communication directed at a specific
person or audience.

Thanks for the thoughts, thus far, everyone.

Take care,

On Wed, Jul 1, 2009 at 5:38 PM, Barry Wellman<wellman at chass.utoronto.ca> wrote:
> Bernie/Blurky,
> Thanks for your thoughtful post re twitter.
> I have often stopped following things such as what you ate for dinner. One
> famous guy who did this a lot got mad at me about my not reciprocally
> following him. I explained why politely, and never heard from him again. I
> assume he's still mad. My first experience with Twitter Politics.
> I try to keep almost all of my tweets to my ideas or RTweeting others --
> lotsa pointers to longer discussions.
> However, every once in a while I am bursting that was important to me that
> I just have to share it -- such as Bev/my recent Rafting down the Grand
> Canyon or you (Blurky/Bernie) coming to town.
> I also use such Tweets (as NancyBaym does) to promote my
> friends'/students' work.
> One thing hard to solve is people I usually learn from but who also point
> their daily stuff ("in the garden, painting my shoes"). I've
> half-seriously thought we could have Tweet1 and Tweet2 for ideas vs
> self-reporting posts.
> I'm also mystified why so many people (500+) follow me. I don't think I
> give very good value. (One of the first things we learned in the early
> days of computerized conferencing is that people have less useful things
> to say to each other on a daily basis than when they save it up for annual
> conferences.) Some do follow because others have suggested. Others I think
> are collectors of "names", even though no one would accuse me of being
> Ashton Kushner. I know in a few cases I myself am following a famous
> social scientist because he is famous (and verbose).
> There seem to be disciplinary clusters (when George Siemens of e-learning
> suggested following me, there was a surge) and geographical clusters (in
> my case: Brasil and Australia) which I assume is word of mouth. I can't
> believe that people who are following 500 have time to read them, even if
> they use Tweetdeck to prioritize. I have barely time to skim the 100 I do
> follow. As I tweeted yesterday, "frittering my time away" has been
> replaced by "twittering my time away".
> There are a whole bunch of research projects here, plus the social network
> stuff on who follows whom. Certainly I'm cross-linked with a bunch of
> AoIRish people. I know this because when someone Follows me, I check out
> who else they're following.
>  Happy Canada Day!
>  Barry Wellman
>  _______________________________________________________________________
>  S.D. Clark Professor of Sociology, FRSC               NetLab Director
>  Department of Sociology                  725 Spadina Avenue, Room 388
>  University of Toronto   Toronto Canada M5S 2J4   twitter:barrywellman
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