Here’s Your Sign…
If you’ve read this blog at all, you know that I’m presently entranced by Twitter.
Or at least, I have been. But I’m afraid that obsession may be coming to a premature end. Strangely tho, not due to anything the folks at Twitter themselves have done.
The thing about Social Media is that the users really determine the experience. You might have the best platform, design, and concept around – but if you haven’t got the people, you haven’t got anything but a URL.
Likewise, apparently, the users can take a site in a direction that can prove its demise. I doubt the founders of MySpace ever foresaw it as the blinky, noisy, child-predator-ridden eyesore that it has become.
Today, the flurry on Twitter is all about TwitterPacks, a wiki that purports to allow the creation of “packs” for the expressed purpose of telling new Twitters whom they should follow based on interest or location.
While I get the intent, and agree that it’s only well-intentioned – trying to create a way for new users to ‘hear’ the Twitter conversation rapidly – I can’t help but believe this is the worst idea to crop up yet.
Why? Well, predominantly because I survived high school – but spent 4 years working diligently to avoid getting labeled in a sea of labels. Are you a jock? a band geek? a cheerleader? a drama queen? a punker? a stoner? a nerd? Pick a label, any label – and try not to stray out of your section of the lunch room, will you? It’s much simpler if we just deny your complexity and put you in a box.
Hardest of all was trying to avoid the box of “rebel – just like all those other rebels – tries to pretend she’s not part of any clique, so we put her in the antisocial clique.” No, I don’t want to be ‘different, just like you.’
If I didn’t put up with it at sixteen, when it’s damned hard not to “go along to get along” – I’m certainly not going to play ball when I’m in my forties.
Am I a Social Media guru? No. But I’m interested in Social Media and I’m busy studying it.
Am I a Network Security guru? No. But I know more about it than your average bear – because it interests me.
Am I a Blogger? No, not really – despite this little corner of the internet, I don’t consider myself a blogger, because I don’t do it with any level of regularity or professionalism. At best, I have a blog. That doesn’t make me a “blogger” any more than writing an essay makes me a “writer.” It’s not what I do for a living.
Am I any of the other “fill-in-the-blank categories” rapidly popping up on the wiki? No, not really and Yes, all of them. Except possibly the geographic ones. I live where I live.
But that’s another point. One of the things I really enjoyed about Twitter was that it was Web 2.0 based, not geographically based. We’re on the internet here folks – my Timeline includes people from all time zones and many countries. If geography is important to me, it’s only to know who happens to be somewhere I may visit so I can meet them face-to-face… but to follow someone based on where they live? That sort of defeats the purpose.
And please don’t get me started on the term “packs” – okay, never mind that warning, I’m started. Packs. Packs are things that have leaders and followers. Alphas and Betas. Male dominated. They aren’t individuals – they act according to the will of the one over the many. The truth is, you can’t run in ‘many packs’ – you can run alongside them… but packs are not inclusive – they are exclusive.
I’m just don’t understand it. Most of the people I’m following are very smart, savvy, caring individuals. But that last word in the previous sentence is just as important as the three that precede it. They are individuals.
I think maybe there’s the initial fun of ‘signing up’ on the wiki… and it’s just the rush of “ooh, you know, I love chess – I’m going to join the chess club – and I love singing, so choir is in, and the computer club, and I think maybe I’ll look at sports…” without the realization that there’s the propensity for getting squished into a box and never let out.
Then again, perhaps I’m being alarmist. There’s the possibility that somehow this community will rise above the tendency to self-segregate.
I was terribly impressed with how the Frozen Pea movement managed to stay open to everyone and anyone… that they managed a sense of community without becoming one of exclusion. If this “TwitterPack” concept goes that direction, then it would prove to be a good thing. The concern I have with regard to that is that I’ve never seen a “list of names” when it comes to those who can and do support the PEAs…
At what point does having an open access mean someone deleting someone else’s name from the list? Or someone adding someone else’s name without their willingness? When does it become “we needed to remove access because some Joker went through and deleted a bunch of stuff…” and thereby become “if you want your name on here, you have to go through these people…”?
I suppose I’m sounding a tad like Cassandra. But all good intentions aside, I just don’t see this rolling out well. If it moves forward as I rather expect it will, I think there’s a good chance that this will be the point where Twitter stops being an open community and starts being terribly clique-ish. And that will be a sad, sad thing.
Edit to Add: the “pack” issue has been addressed fully in the comments… and I have acknowledged that the intent was not that of a “pack” as it relates to animal behavior but a “pack” as shorthand for “package.” So before you decide that you will ignore the main thrust of this post to jump on one miscommunication, rethink. It will only make YOU look silly for not reading what wiser minds have said before you.
~ by Lucretia on January 28, 2008.