Conversation

UPDATE: I failed to include the location of my twitter stream: http://twitter.com/tmclarke

My last post about twitter had it wrong and I figured out what I really mean.

I want conversation. I came to this realization by thinking about writing post about talking to myself and thinking about my difficulty with twitter.

I pretty much keep a constant dialog with myself all day. It doesn’t matter where I am or what I’m doing. Sometimes it’s outright back and forth, sometimes (like Monday when I was shopping for some workout clothes, which is when I first came up with the diea of making a post about it) it’s a sort of low mutter with lots of curse words and discontent. When I’m at home it’s nonverbal most of the time. But it is constant.

So when I get on something like twitter what I really want to do is have a conversation with people. I want to reply and get replies and discuss a topic until it isn’t interesting anymore. But twitter isn’t really for that, from what I can see. Someone says something, someone replies, and there might be another response from the original person. But that’s as far as it goes.

I’ll keep at it. But I’m definitely liking blogging more.

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7 Responses

  1. Whoa. A redesign. I guess that’s what I get for staying in Google Reader.

    My twist on what Twitter means to me has changed since I’ve been using it. If you look at my Twitter page, I have amassed about 6000+ tweets. And, according to the Twitter blog, I am in a 10% group of people with 80+ followers/following. So I am not a typical user case.

    Now that’s what I find interesting, and a bit surprising. I was never exactly the guy to be chatty in public, but I sure had a lot to say to my close friends.

    What Twitter allows me to be, is the kid in class who always has a smart remark. But this kid doesn’t get sent to the principal’s office. There’s no reprimand.

    I also found out, that like you, I have a continual stream of discussion going on in my head about the things I see and do. 24/7 it’s going. Twitter allows me to get that stuff out, and not really care if each one makes sense or is funny or whatever. I know most of my fluff will be lost in the shuffle. That’s ok.

    Lastly, it’s also this 6 degrees thing. I have now connected to a writer for Wired. We follow each other, and have responded to each others tweets at least once. Now, I have been reading Wired for at least 7-8 years solid, maybe more. Knowing that I am connected to someone who writes for my favorite mag, is just plain geeky cool.

    Ok. That’s it. (My fingers hurt now from typing all this.)

  2. I know exactly what you are saying. When I first tried Twitter, I had precisely the same feelings. I remember telling Teresa that using Twitter felt like trying to have a conversation with a DJ on the radio. They would blurt out some nice little quip, or random statement about whatever, and then disappear for 3-4 minutes without, of course, responding to anything I had said. I was frustrated with the whole thing. I too suffered from the same sort of ‘performance anxiety’ that each twitt had to be a ‘home run’, or some profound statement about life. It only took me a few days, and I gave it up.

    To a certain extent, I have the same problem with blogging.

    Another issue I had with twitter at the start was that I was simply on the move too much. I wasn’t at my computer enough to really get into anything other than the immediate need, and then I was off again. Using twitter strictly on a Razr via SMS just wasn’t appealing. Then I had a job change. I moved out of the position of Maintenance Director, and into the position of Information Systems Manager. It was a perfect move. I no longer have to be involved in the day-to-day maintenance or operations of the company. I get to work on cleaning up our databases, policy and procedures, system security, and so on. I now spend all day either at my desk, or in the server room. The issue of not being close to twitter was gone.

    The real change in my opinion of Twitter came after a conversation I had with a friend of mine about some of her current frustrations. She used to live in the country, about 10 miles outside of town, in a small house all by herself. In the evenings, she had developed the habit of walking on the property and talking to the trees. On bad days she would scream at the stars. She has since moved into town and now lives with a roommate. Walking around her yard and venting her frustrations into the night sky is not quite as easy now. To a certain extent, she has to internalize a lot more than she did in the past.

    I was having a frustrating day at work a while later, and I remembered that conversation. Twitter sort of became my night sky. It’s not like I am airing out my struggles to the twitterverse, or anything like that. It feels more like a relief valve on my head. I live in my head a lot, and having twitter close at hand has allowed me to vent off a bit of that internal babble. For some reason it feels better to say it in twitter, that to just keep it in my head. Even if it’s nothing other than “Man, lunch really sucked today”. Maybe Twitter is just a surrogate friend in that way. A nonjudgmental, always available, unbiased friend.

    Like I said, I’m not even twitting the really deep stuff that happens in my head, just some of the random silliness. For some reason it still has a strange, almost therapeutic effect. Maybe it’s because it provides a sense that someone hears you. You’re kind of inviting others into your stream of consciousness, but you get to sensor what they see. And every now and again, once you build up a group of followers that suits you, you will get a reply.

    You hear a lot more about the practical side of Twitter. You can keep tabs on who is where, blah, blah, blah. That doesn’t really resonate with me. It’s also less about exhibitionism for me, and more about watching others. It’s kind of neat being invited into their stream. All that said, Twitter didn’t ‘click’ for me until I changed my expectations.

  3. This is good. Because I had the same impulse, to just be the guy in the back of the room shouting out comments. Okay, I’m going to be less self-censoring.

  4. Wallace:

    It’s starting to make more sense now. Thanks for that response.

    I think I was looking at it as just a new kind of chat program. IRC ver2.0 or something. It’s clearly not.

  5. – I have a slightly different take on Twitter – would love any input:

    Part of my employment involves the online management of an artist – a singer. I’m responsible for marketing the band, getting the info out there, developing the online communities, etc, etc, etc.

    One of my colleagues sees my Twitter posts and believes that I am spending all day on Twitter doing nothing – and no matter how many times I have explained the concept of digital rep and permission marketing – just doesn’t get it.

    I believe that as people get more and more connected – digital reputation is going to be paramount to anything that you wish to do. It takes time to build a reputation and above all things – it has to be real – it has to be honest – you can’t fake shit online – you can’t make things up and hope to sell short and get out – if you’re serious about your enterprise then you need to become transparent.

    I believe that Twitter performs a number of functions:

    1/ It enables you – the individual – to become visible and transparent online: grammatically oxymoronic – but in a world where everybody’s selling something – knowing who that person is – being able to see where they come from – is great information when you’re looking at what that person has to sell.

    2/ Access to new information: Scoble will tell you that it isn’t how many people follow you that’s important – but how many people you follow – I’m beginning to understand this – the more people I follow – the more new information I receive – tools like Twhirl help you manage the information flow – and sure – you’re not going to keep up with everything – but over time you learn about the latest tools, the latest information – quicker than ever before

    I could go on – but I think I’ve got it out of me – thank you for the forum!

    What I say to people who are just starting with Twitter is to suspend disbelief – drop all reason – and just do it – don’t judge yourself – just do it – and after a couple of months – if you’re still there – you’ll understand…

  6. Andrew:

    I basically agree with you. Digital reputation is becoming more and more important. Cory Doctorow and others have played with the idea in fiction for some time.

    But there is and always will be a threshold below which reputation is meaningless except on a local personal level. And most people are going to be below that threshold. There is only ever going to be a few Scobles and ZeFranks.

    Still, No 1 and 2 I’m with you on totally.

  7. @andrew I’ve had a few people say similar issues about the whole doing nothing twittering thing. I think it comes down to grasping what it means to be online these days. Things are changing so fast, as far as how we connect and how we communicate that I think it’s hard for many people to assimilate. There are still a great many people who view being online as checking Yahoo! for movie times. I find it maddening, but it’s true. And we are also redefining things right now. Who we are is changing to encompass a great many things and it’s too fast for many to grasp.

    Another thing I think people who are not “getting it” have problems with, is the whole concept of knowing people. I always use my own mother in instances like this, but she doesn’t really get how I can know people all over the world and not have travelled outside the U.S. before.

    I agree with you wholeheartedly about being transparent these days for reputation and trust. It’s all to easy to dig and find out the dirt on people now. Bad news travels fast, and now lasts forever (or as long as Google stays afloat).

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