When I first heard about Twitter, and during my “observe and learn” time, I worked on the (mistaken) premise that people would answer the Defining Question. “What are you doing?”
And because of that mistaken premise, I was expecting to see things happen that I haven’t really experienced so far. So what was I expecting? Let me try and explain. I’m going to call them “favours between friends”. There appear to be five types:
- Community-based favours
- Location-based favours
- Experience-based favours
- Activity-based favours
- Returning favours
If I was an acronym-type person, I guess I would call them CLEAR favours. But I won’t.
Community-based favour example: “Is there anyone out there who knows anything about left-handed Wii wands?” Hoosgot may become a good vehicle for all community-based activity on twitter.
Location-based favour example: “Hey, if you’re going to the Apple Store then could you please buy this for me and bring it over?” “If you get the time to go by the MOMA store, I’d really appreciate it if you could pick up a Mondrian mousemat for me”.
Experience-based favour example: “I ate at TAO last summer. You just have to try the Kobe beef while you are there. Unmissable.” “I see you’re planning to watch Kite Runner. Could you tell me if it is really suitable for a 13-year old? I hear there’s some child sex abuse scenes in it.”
Activity-based favour example: “How did you feel going up to the observation level of the Empire State Building? Did it tire you, could you feel any change in atmospheric pressure?”
“Returning” favours: Any of these done on a reciprocal basis, but in covenant relationship. None of this you-scratch-my-back-I-scratch-yours manipulative nonsense. People do favours for people because people areÂ naturally social, generous, want to help others. Altruism is real.
So that’s what I was expecting. That people used Twitter to signal what they were actually doing, about to do, had just done, and so on. That as a result of the signals, others could participate in a bigger something, building on the signals. That as a result of this bigger something, everyone would gain.
This works when Twitter is a community, with a real understanding of “commons”. When a person has an @someone-else conversation in Twitter, it should be because both people think the community will be enriched as a result. Otherwise the conversation should be taking place somewhere else.
These were my thoughts as I began to play with twitter. I’m still learning, but I’m definitely not seeing what I expected to see, other than Hoosgot.
Of course conventions like L: and @ and ++ are useful, but only if there is some place the novice can go to to find out about such conventions. Otherwise it will become an elitist fad.
I like Twitter. I think it has real value. And, by the way, so does Facebook. A subject of a different post.