[Air-L] Trivial tweeting

Mariana Matos marianasantiagodematos at gmail.com
Fri Jul 3 08:41:15 PDT 2009

Hi there!

I've been reading the threads on this topic, and I've some ideas to share 
with you.

First of all, I totally agree with Cornelius, that we shouldn't judge twitts 
as "trivial", because it's something personal. For example, what may look 
trivial to one, may not look the same way to others... So, what's trivial? I 
also liked the comparison with writing on park benches and the reasons 
people should have to do this.

I think that people may tweet for different reasons, and that's what I've 
been hearing from Twitter users. There are some who don't write a line. 
They're "spectators", often looking for relevant information. In that case, 
they follow who they consider to be a good source of news and information.

There are others who are themselves the news/information "producers". They 
always have a good amount of followers, although they follow few people.

Finally, there are those who use Twitter as a way of keeping in touch with 
friends. For these people, Twitter is almost a chat room, and we can see 
conversations being held. I think that among them are most of those who 
tweet things that could be seen as "trivial". However, if we consider that 
they're being read mostly by their friends, I wouldn't say that their 
followers would classify their tweets as trivial... One example. I have a 
close friend who's 8 months pregnant. She often twitt about how she's 
feeling. When she tweets about contractiong, for example, that wouldn't be 
very interesting for those who don't know her, or who aren't close to her. 
But as she's a close friend of mine, it interests me and other of her 
followers. Then, for me it's not "trivial tweeting".

One last thing I'd like to say. Some time ago there was a trending topic 
which was "whyitweet". Among many responses, there were many references to 
the sensation of being important. Many said that they liked pretending that 
people cared about what they say, or that twitting made they feel like 
they're so paid attention. I think these responses bring some light to the 

Sorry about the long message!!

Best regards,

Mariana Matos-Silva
PhD Student
Rio de Janeiro, Brasil

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Cornelius Puschmann" <cornelius.puschmann at uni-duesseldorf.de>
To: <RBerkman at aol.com>
Cc: <air-l at listserv.aoir.org>; <bernie.hogan at oii.oxford.ac.uk>
Sent: Thursday, July 02, 2009 1:48 PM
Subject: Re: [Air-L] Trivial tweeting

> Hi Rob, Bernie and colleagues,
> the communicative behavior that you describe is precisely what my 
> presentation in the Twitter session at IR 10.0 will address (I believe 
> the title contains something about "reporting states and actions" - am  on 
> my iPhone so can't check). The published papers on Twitter by  Honeycut 
> and Herring/danah describe interactional tweeting (tweets  that initiate 
> an exchange or can be assumed to be written with the  goal of initiating 
> one) in detail, but non-interactional tweeting has  not been covered yet 
> as far as I can tell.
> I've looked into (and written about) the same issue with blogs and I 
> would caution anyone a) against using value judgements ("trivial" 
> tweeting/blogging etc) and b) against assuming from the start that  this 
> kind of behavior is audience-centric (i.e. that people write this  stuff 
> with a lot of consideration for their readers, or, more  specifically, 
> with the intention of providing useful information to  them).
> Why do people scratch "I was here" into park benches or leave their 
> imprint in wet cement? Because creating a record of your existence  proves 
> both to yourself and to others that you were in a certain place  at a 
> certain point in time, which at least to me seems to be more the  result 
> of a basic psychological need than a genuinely social activity.  You're 
> not really "messaging" those others in that you necessarily  have any 
> communicative intent other than wanting the words to echo  back to you. 
> Why do people write diaries? At least in part to  stabilize the self, to 
> create a coherence of thoughts, emotions and  events in relation to the 
> self (see research by James Pennebaker et al  on health improvements 
> related to diary writing).
> It's possible to integrate this with the ambience argument. Non- 
> interactional tweets tend to report places, activities and physical/ 
> emotional states (what someone had for lunch is less common in my 
> subjective experience). They usually indicate changes from the default 
> which are noteworthy to the twitterer, regardless of their  informational 
> relevance. How often have you read "am on the train to  X / the plane to Y 
> / just arrived at a hotel in Z"? I am not disputing  that this information 
> can also be relevant to others, but my  impression is that that isn't the 
> reason why people tweet it so  frequently. Travelling places us outside of 
> our usual environment both  spatially and socially and therefore increases 
> both the need to report  and the likelihood that the information will be 
> perceived at least as  marginally relevant.
> I'll stop here, before I reproduce the content of at least one of my 
> papers in all its lengthy entirity. My central arguments:
> 1) audience design in blogs and Twitter greatly varies from person to 
> person (see Scott Nowson's work on blogging and personality) - in my 
> opinion, minimal intended audience is the blogger/tweeter herself,
> 2) communication is always motivated, but not always audience-oriented  - 
> especially if you don't know exactly who your audience is or what it 
> perceives as relevant, which is why people tweet this stuff but don't 
> usually email it or post it to mailing lists such as this one,
> 3) in a medial environment where any information can be stored and 
> transmitted to anyone with equal and minimal effort, strictly speaking 
> nothing is "relevant" or "irrelevant", and I think people sense this.
> My 0.05€.
> Cornelius Puschmann, PhD
> University of Duesseldorf
> Department of English Language and Linguistics
> http://ynada.com
> Am 02.07.2009 um 15:30 schrieb RBerkman at aol.com:
>> Have you read the various discussions and articles on the concept and
>> desire for "ambient awareness"--the desire to develop a kind of  sixth 
>> sense
>> about what our friends and colleagues are doing/thinking/observing,  so 
>> in a
>> sense we feel more connected to them? So, just like you might be 
>> chatting on
>> the  phone with a friend or relative and say you've just had a  delicious 
>> Thai
>> chicken  sandwich as a way to share something trivial, but still 
>> socially
>> bonding, the  same can be done over your Twitter followers, writ 
>> large...
>> Robert Berkman
>> Associate Professor
>> Media Studies & Film
>> The New School
>> **************It's raining cats and dogs -- Come to PawNation, a place
>> where pets rule! (http://www.pawnation.com/?ncid=emlcntnew00000008)
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