Thursday, May 07, 2009

Seth Finkelstein on Twitter

... Twitter implements a distilled version of many problematic aspects of blogging. Namely, a one-to-many broadcasting system that serves the needs of high-attention individuals, combined with an appeal to low-attention individuals that the details of one's life matter to an audience.

The "A-list" phenomenon, where a few sources with a large readership dominate the information flow on a topic, was particularly stark. Since the numbers of "following" and "followers" are visible, the usual steep ranking curve was immediately evident. A highly ranked person is free to attack anyone lower down the ranks, as there's no way for the wronged party to effectively reply to the same readers.

Getting a significant followership and thus being socially prominent is also important. Hence, there are major incentives to churn out quick punditry that is pleasing to partisans.

From here. He links to a recent piece reporting that "more than 60 percent of U.S. Twitter users fail to return the following month."

I have tried Twitter. I didn't quite enjoy it, so I don't foresee becoming a regular user there. It's not clear to me what it was about Twitter that bummed me out; but it's certainly not the sociological issues highlighted by Finkelstein -- I really haven't thought much about them until I read his piece.

It's quite possible that I don't enjoy Twitter because I don't "get" it. That's okay; the Web does offer many ways of dealing with the online world, and we get to pick the pathologies we are comfortable with.


  1. ggop said...

    Loved your comment on the web offering different ways of dealing with the world.