Twittering, Rhymes With Frittering – Is That Where My Time Goes?

I know I promised to move on to Seesmic soon – and I will, just as soon as I dredge through the backlog of other things I said I’d blog about.  You’ll have to forgive me – I’m not even up to blogging consistently here yet.  I still haven’t quite found my voice here, or the direction (plural?) that this space will be taking.  It’s rather an organic blog as yet.

That said, there has been a lot of discussion on Twitter lately about the nature of Twitter itself.   And I just have this burning desire to write a bit more about it, so I’m giving in to temptation and taking a few moments to indulge myself.  I suppose it’s less fattening that conceding to my craving for chocolate, so we’ll pretend it’s okay.

Laura Fitton, also known as Pistachi, posted a blog last week talking about Twitter as a Village that struck a chord with many of us.  But the more I’ve thought about it, the more resistant I am to the “village” analogy, and the more stuck I am on the cocktail party analogy I presented awhile back here.

You see, the word ‘village’ to me has connotations I’m not sure I really want to associate with Twitter.  Villages are small communities.  Twitter is an ever-growing network of thousands.  Villages have identities.  Twitter is about as schitzophrenic as it gets.

In my travels, I’ve noted that the smaller the community, the more tight-knit it becomes.  It’s hard to move into a small community.  They are fearful of outsiders and resistant to change.  New & different is pretty much viewed as scary & bad.   But one of the things that appeals so much to me about the community on Twitter is that it is exactly the opposite.

Six months ago, before I joined, I knew maybe a dozen or two of the folks currently listed on my Twitterpage.  Certainly, I knew of many of the folk I follow now – because many of the leaders in the Social Media and Web 2.0 arenas are on Twitter.  But talk to them? Interact with them? Have dialogues?  Nope.

The reason I likened Twitter to a cocktail party wasn’t the level of conversation… it was the accessibility.  There are literally dozens of conversations going on in my timeline feed every day.  They vary in depth from tech news, to politics, to television shows or movies, to personal events, to outright playful silliness.  I find that reading my timeline is rapidly replacing scanning headlines for important news.  Where I used to pull up, I now first listen to what my Twitterpals are discussing.  It might be football.  It might be a situation in the Middle East.  It might be who has the best new dance video on Seesmic.  Whatever it is, if it’s blogged about concisely somewhere – or streamed – someone will link to it.  But more than that, a discussion will arise over it.

I like the playful tone that Shel Israel (and others) have taken over things like “Who should be the Mayor of Twitter?” but I like best that there is no hierarchy.  You might sign up today, start following some of the more ‘popular’ Twitterfolk, and find that in a very short time you come to know them as people you really care about.   Friendships are forged there in brief conversations.

I do understand the appeal to define it as a village –  as it sure is nice to know your  Twitter neighbors, and to have a good chat with them at the 140 character fencepost – but I’m a stubborn sort, and prefer to shy away from the negative connotations of the term as well.  Twitterville (as some have taken to calling it) isn’t filled with wary townsfolk who give strangers a leery look when first they appear – it’s full of fun, chatty, interesting, intelligent folk who put the “social” in Social Media.  If you’re willing to make with the conversation, and to listen to the songs being sung around you, you’ll find it quite the nicest party you’ve been to in a long time.


~ by Lucretia on January 14, 2008.

5 Responses to “Twittering, Rhymes With Frittering – Is That Where My Time Goes?”

  1. Would you go for the “never ending block party”? That’s a little village’esque. I’ve not spent too much time yet delving into why I like it so much. I will though. Back in the late 80’s there were some tight knit chat rooms on MSN and AOL that this reminds me of in close way. Great seeing you at the perpetual cocktail party! Cheers.

  2. yep… that works as well! It reminds me as well of a few of the communities on usenet back-in-the-day… but more immediate, and less prone to flamewars.

    I’m still sort of wondering if it’s just that 140 characters is too short for most arguments!

    And thanks for the feedback!

  3. I love the cocktail party image too. Please feel free to add it & a link to this post here at the TwitterPhor wiki: password is village.

  4. I remember when the net was just getting this type of attention, someone coined it the “global village” perhaps we can call Twitter a global community which is a lot more of what we all want.

  5. What I love about Twitter is that no matter how different we all are, you can always find AT LEAST one thing you have in common with those you follow and that makes the “village” feel even that much smaller.

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