Twitterverse Magic

February 9, 2010

     As much as I’d love magic to exist in our ‘real’ universe, I have long ago filed it away with so many other things I wish were true. Sorry, Harry Potter. But a recent exchange on twitter has opened my eyes to the fact that there are other universes where magic might truly exist. One such is the twitterverse.

     Now the twitterverse has its own fundamental laws and particles, tweets and RT’s, links and follower bots. They interact in strange and mysterious ways, which our social media physicists are still trying to put into a grand unified theory. But at this point in the development of the twitterverse, I think we see things as being caused by forces we don’t understand (magic), perhaps we are at the beginning of an alchemical approach to it. So for now, we can just act like things operate here by magic, until somebody has an apple fall on their head and begins to really understand this stuff.

     My thoughts on this started when I was telling a friend on twitter how I had tweeted the name of a certain brand of coffee and I was immediately followed by a bot from that company. I was then contacted and I started getting free samples. She sounded skeptical.

But shortly thereafter she tweeted that  it was working and that she was being followed by friendly bots.

So wishes can come true in the twitterverse. I’m not sure if you have to tap your heels, though. And not sure if the ‘Only three wishes’ rule applies here.

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Which Twitter are you using?

January 4, 2010

     We’re all on the same Twitter feed, aren’t we?  No, actually we each have our own customized feeds of those we choose to follow and I think we don’t realize how much these can differ. So is there really any such thing as a universal Twitter expert, guru, coach? Is there an Emily Post on Twitter that covers everyone? I don’t think so. You need to find and follow the people relevant to your particular community or communities. There are many different communities on twitter, and like communities anywhere they differ in customs and manners. Some people just endlessly tweet what they do all day, as so many people wrongly perceive Twitter is all about. Communities of online merchants see nothing wrong with talking about and promoting their offerings, public relations and marketing people see nothing wrong with endless self-examination of the effects of social medias on their fields. Charity fundraisers see nothing wrong with their endless appeals. Geeks chatter endlessly about the latest apps and gadgets, musicians connect and promote, writers network and chat. The list goes on and on.

     Some of the more well-known Twitter ‘personalities’ cross over many of these Twitterverses, but I’ve noticed lately a slightly schizophrenic tendency in their tweets and blogs as they try be universal to an increasingly diverse following. You can’t be all things to all people, as they say. And one set of rules of behavior won’t fit very different communities on Twitter. The way people use Twitter is their own affair, and shouldn’t be crammed down other’s throats like ‘the one true religion.’

     This is not to say there isn’t overlap, or that one is limited to one type of community. It’s my opinion one should broaden and connect with all types of people. I’m all over the place, and I think that has helped me realize how many different Twitters there are out there. And how different in intent and usage they are.

     Do you think there is some universal etiquette or set of customs applicable to everyone on Twitter?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.


Is Twitter a highway to nowhere?

December 13, 2009

     The question here is that talking about Twitter on Twitter might be a lot of fun, and that’s okay. But if Twitter is to be taken as a serious medium, where are you going on the Twitter highway? Are you delivering any fresh content, whether it be recipes or philosophical musings? A large amount of social media seems to be navel gazing, recursive discussion of social media discussing itself. This resonates across all forms of social media in different but related ways. I focus here on Twitter as it is my preferred type of social media.

     In the early 1960’s Marshall McLuhan had many remarkable and prophetic insights in the fields of communication. Among these was the concept that media was as or more important than the content it delivered, summed up in the famous statement ‘the medium is the  message’. He had many startling conclusions which don’t seem quite as strange to us now as they did then, although a few still are a little unsettling. For example, he said the effect of television as a medium was the same whether it was delivering children’s shows, or reports on violent crime. 

     So on Twitter, is it just the  tweet that’s important? Or, as I hope, does the content still have some meaning. Twitter can be a road leading somewhere. As a tool for businesses to analyze their brand and communicate with their customers, as a means for people to mobilize for social causes and charities, as a way to find people with shared interests for discussion and involvement.


The Public Utility Responsibilities of a Monopoly

August 16, 2009

     There has been a lot of talk lately about the danger of  Twitter bearing so much of the traffic of micro-blogging, and in the past couple of weeks, this has been demonstrated by it’s being knocked off the Internet under several attacks. I’m more worried about a different problem of large monopolies that have grown on the Internet, and for once, I’ll actually talk about my field as an example, selling used books.

bookshelves      I list on several different book sites. If something happens to any one of them, it doesn’t tip the balance of my survival as a bookseller. Except one, Amazon. As time passes, the percentage of sales generated by Amazon increases, right now for me it’s somewhere around 75%. They are very successful at what they do, getting their name out there, and when people think book nowadays, they think Amazon. Now Amazon is a private profit-making company, and in general I support their right to do pretty much whatever they want. But what social responsibility does such a company have to people who make their living selling through them?

     This applies to Ebay, and social network sites also. They may be a private company, but they function more as a public utility. I’ve know several people who have, rather arbitrarily, been booted off Amazon. There is no real recourse, it is next to impossible to get re-listed with them. I’m sure this is sometimes justified, but Amazon considers the purchasers of their products the customer, not the person paying commissions that sells their product there. And the customer is always right, right? So in any questionable dispute, they tend to side with their ‘customer’, and this has obviously worked well for them. But the bookseller who is denied access to the largest medium by far for selling books is now either pretty much out of business, or hurt badly if they do manage to survive.

      I’m not sure what the right answer is to this problem, as I said earlier they are a private company that has assumed some of the cachet of a public utility. What are their social responsibilities when they wield that much power? I do think they should have a much fairer and accessible review process for getting re-listed. I would love to hear other’s views on this. Just in the interests of disclosure, I’m having no problems with them. In fact, they recently told me not to worry about a claim someone was making for a book order over 9 months old. But I do worry about the future of these private/public entities.