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Finding the sea of green: More on Twitter is My Submarine

In the town where I was born,
Lived a man who sailed to sea,
And he told us of his life,
In the land of submarines,

So we sailed on to the sun,
Till we found the sea of green,
And we lived beneath the waves,
In our yellow submarine,

We all live in a yellow submarine,
yellow submarine, yellow submarine,
We all live in a yellow submarine,
yellow submarine, yellow submarine.

And our friends are all aboard,
Many more of them live next door,
And the band begins to play.

Yellow Submarine (Lennon/McCartney) The Beatles, 1966

Yesterday I spent some time talking about how I viewed Twitter now, having used it for a while. Today I thought I’d follow up with a brief explanation on how Twitter is my Submarine changes the way I treat Twitter.

As my last post details,  I view Twitterland as my personal ocean, and Twitter itself as my personal submarine and periscope. Once I understood this, it wasn’t long before I understood a few things:

1. In Twitterland, I am in control of the pollution that enters my personal ocean. I choose the tributaries that make the rivers of information that go into my own ocean. I can turn the tributaries on and off. That made me think of what I would consider polluting habits. Twitterland has many Polluting Habits.

My first change of behaviour, therefore, was to start looking at everything I did in Twitter from the viewpoint of pollution of personal oceans, I wanted to identify the polluting habits.

2. The first one is Industrial Pollution, where my personal ocean gets filled up with other people’s automated tweets, the expulsion of particulate contaminants into my personal water. You know something? I like automated tweets, the way they take human latency out of the process, the way they tend to come error free and context rich. But you know something else? I want to choose whose automated tweets I get; more importantly, I want to choose which particular themes the automated tweets are about. Today I get one person saying “I am here.” “Now I am here.” “Now I have moved and I am here”. A second person is signalling “I’m live, come talk to me” as if they’re some seedy chat line. A third is into “I’m playing this piece of music now”. And this one. And this one. The issue is not the content as much as the frequency of publishing. One day I will have the tools to say “Please turn off tweeter A’s music tweets, tweeter B’s food tweets, tweeter C’s location signalling; they’re all very nice people, they’re my friends, but the reason they’re my friends is that we aren’t alike in all our tastes!”. But until that day arrives, I need to let my friends know that a little tweet sensitivity will go a long way towards helping keep many of our personal oceans clean.

My second change of behaviour was to choose to avoid all automated tweets; instead, I signalled my movement to a higher-tweet-frequency place such as blip.fm or last.fm, and then tweeted the odd sample or two, not the whole session.

3. The next source of pollution was the introduction of Waste Products into my personal ocean. This was where people I followed kept up high levels of shameless self-plugging and personal advertising, making my ocean uncecessarily bigger. I said Hey (Hey) You (You) Get off of My Ocean.

My response was to unfollow the people, in the hope that anything useful they said would be retweeted by someone else. Waste Producers tend to have large numbers of followers, so it’s not difficult to find someone who will filter their waste for you.

4. The final source of pollution was people who Shone Light into My Darkroom. Shining lights is a Good Thing. Except in darkrooms, especially when you’re a photographer. I found that Twitter was not just a place I went to in order to find things out, it was also a place I went to in the hope that there were things I would *not* find out. I expected people who understood about “spoiling” and how to avoid it.

My response was to be very careful about spoilers, to make sure I was considerate to others when tweeting.

And you know something? That about sums it up. Twitter is a collaborative space, where many personal oceans overlap. We have to learn to be considerate to each other in that collaborative space.

There’s another big subject I want to write about, the role of Twitter in Knowledge Management, but that’s not for today. I’m done for today. Views and comments welcome as usual.

[Incidentally, I have not been able to find the person who took the wonderful photograph above, I found it on the web without any accreditation for me to use and thank....help please].

Posted in Twitter.


5 Responses

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  1. Benjamin M J Ellis says

    Tweets with semantic information, and dials to turn things up or down. Now that would be good. Facebook does some of this already (‘less from this person’ ‘more photos’) etc… Definitely food for thought – in the enterprise context it could create an interesting knowledge-flow tool – I’m looking forward to that post!

  2. JP says

    Benjamin, don’t know if you read this, something I wrote a year ago: http://confusedofcalcutta.com/2008/01/27/capillaries-can-carry-compressed-context/

    Also, this post about Facebook and Knowledge Management, from 2007, will give you an idea of where I’m going with the Twitter post. http://confusedofcalcutta.com/2007/08/14/facebook-and-the-enterprise-part-5-knowledge-management/

  3. Lars Plougmann says

    JP, the lovely photo you used to illustrate the post can be found in context on flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/scampychamp/112329644/in/pool-36652397@N00.

    (This was my first test of a service I just heard about today, tineye.com. The tool finds images on the web that are near-identical to a particular image.)

  4. JP says

    hey Lars, that’s a great find. thanks a lot. I can now credit the photo properly, and there are a million other uses I can think of

  5. Benjamin M J Ellis says

    Thanks JP – I hadn’t seen the first. I’m enjoying the thoughts unfolding!



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