Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Twitter: Interpersonal Pointillism

I trawled around the internet to see what I could find about Twitter. What makes it click? I have a hard time relating to the need to know which fellow student skipped class on account of a massive hangover. I need to find a connection between my take on reality and the technology’s ability to deliver.

The annoyance of the incessant drivel is the major put-off. Other people don’t see it that way, though. Well, at first, they did. Then, the patter seemed to take on a comforting presence, roughly akin to two people doing two different things but in the same room, “for company”—if we were together, I could then hear you sigh when you got to that sad part in the book I told you was a must-read…and you could hear me smack my fist in my palm when I got to that reader’s comment that I just read on your blog.

Somehow, “Same Planet, Different Worlds” is not as cozy a thought to me as it is to Tweeple.

So, knowing what one’s friends are doing throughout the day—keep in mind, many Tweeple have upwards of 180 “friends” they are “following”—gives a person a sense of closeness and awareness about all those associates that would not have been otherwise achieved. I guess that makes Twitter the interpersonal networking equivalent of portraiture by pointillism.

OK, admittedly, that could be used for good, according to some comments I found, like: “I’ve seen plenty of posts of someone doing a walk for hunger or a collection for diabetes. Twitter allows people to use their friend lists to propagate that information faster, and try to draw more direct help down to a problem.” Despite the Tweeple risk, it is beneficial to get involved for good and to encourage others to get with it, too. Who else would you influence, if not your friends?

Friends-in-tow social activism isn’t the only use, and in this way, Twitter mirrors social-networking icons of lower-tech past generations. Think breakroom gossip. “Twitter might just be the electronic, distributed water cooler of lore.” I guess it all comes down to information: what kind, how to use it, who to share it with.

I’m not sure I really want to reconstruct a portrait of each of my friends and family members, one point--one tweet--at a time. Sounds too tedious. I already know them pretty well, anyhow. Or maybe that’s just what I think.

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