robert sanzalone, who is, by the way, one amazing and knowledgeable guy, especially when it comes to blogging, got me into twittering the other day. what’s twitter? it’s a neat little live chat/blogging combination and relatively new, so there’s all kinds of interesting people still on there talking to everyone.
i’m really intrigued by twitter and its ability quickly and easily to engage people online. it’s another conversation tool, and you guys know how dear to my heart the topic of conversation is.
twitter is almost better than going to a party. because most people on twitter also have a blog, you can find out a lot about a person right away – do an instant background check, so to say. you can see who their online friends are, you can tune out the people who annoy you and invite the ones who you want to have around. you can participate in a huge twitter “room” where you can see everyone’s messages, you can just see what your friends are up to, and you can instant message privately.
right now, what people do on twitter seems to be mostly about updating their activities. a lot of them are pretty mundane, of course: “am making dinner now”, “tired; going to bed” – that kind of stuff. that’s why i wasn’t even interested in the beginning.
but then robert helped me see that a) some people actually post neat little snippets (like StandIn documenting his day on a TV shoot, hour by hour) and b) there are some pretty darn interesting people on there. like robert scoble, well-known to techies and people who move in the blogosphere. (btw, the fact that i refer to them as techies tells any one of them that i’m not a techie; but i still think that’s the term that’s the most understandable to everyone.)
aaah, and that’s what i want to talk about. because this is not just a blog post but also an open letter to scoble (who twittered yesterday that he hates email.)
stuff like twitter and even what we’re doing here, blogging, is absolutely wonderful in my eyes. they are two more ways of communicating with each other.
with each other.
here’s the crux: what are we communicating about?
and who is the “each other”?
because what i’ve observed in my 15 months or so in the blogosphere is that all these truly wonderful ways of communicating happen to a large degree among techies about technological stuff.
there’s nothing wrong with that per se. but.
you know what it’s like when you’re going to a party, and it turns out that three-quarters of the people are doctors, and they all talk doctor talk amongst each other? you just feel like you’re not part of the whole thing and as soon as you can, you do your best to quietly slink away. the conversations are not such much with each other, but among themselves.
and yet, there could have been such fantastic connections. doctors could have talked to plumbers about baseball, waitresses could have talked with brain surgeons about choosing the right daycare.
we have these amazing tools for communication, and it seems to me that they are being used a lot by people who were part of inventing these tools, and now they’re really excited about hanging out with other people who also invent tools. but the thing is that these tools are not like highly specialized medical equipment, they’re really more like hammers, tools that anyone could use.
you go on any social bookmarking site (now there’s a hammer-like tool) – sites where people publish their bookmarks and favourites for others to see and comment on – and the vast majority of them are about techie stuff.
where’s the social in all of this? where’s the rest of the community? you know, the 80% of the internet users who are not quite sure what the difference is between a newsletter and a blog?
one of the reasons why they’re not there is because they don’t want to go to a party where people speak a language (tech speak) they don’t understand.
so now back to twitter. twitter has the potential of being really big. it’s in its infancy. after seeing you twitter, it occurs to me that people like you, robert scoble, are in a position where you can help make twitter a communication tool that really works for the masses. you could help make it not yet another enclave for techies. right now, twitter seems to be mostly either techies or people talking about their everyday activities. which is great, but there is so much more potential for it!
you are a tech guru but you also know about conversations (yup, he’s even written a book about it). i hear that the SXSW conference (a conference about interactive media in austin, tx this weekend) is going to be a big moment for twitter. when you do interviews about your use of twitter (as i’m sure you will) can you talk about the amazing things that could happen with it?
like the little snippet of conversation i had with raymond, which made me start thinking about all of this. or, i have fantasies of using twitter to update people on the progress of my grandchild’s arrival once my daughter goes into labour. twitter, with its limitation to 140 characters per message, could be a great tool during elections. or, or, or. the possibilities are endless. robert scoble, can you help make it comfortable to the masses?
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