The twitter back channels

By | 21/02/2008

Twitter is one of those places that takes some time to get the hang of but once you do it’s going to suck you in and won’t spit you out till you’re exhausted. It’s a little bit like seesmic except that in this case you don’t look like you’re so in love with your computer that you’re talking to it.

In reality twitter is just the surface of our interaction with the groups of friends we have met and made through this network. Twitter is first and foremost about short messages to say what you’re doing right now. Over time though it’s become much more. As more and more people started to use it so the want to comment on what people are doing increased. Overtime as more and more comments were made so conversations occured. These conversations are a little more complex than you may think. Initially conversations via instant messaging services like ICQ, Skype, Yahoo and others are about one to one communication. Twitter is about the overheard conversation. In other words as I’m talking to one person another person overhears what I’m saying and they want to join. Over time a community forms. Some call it the twitterverse, others the twittosphere, and some call us the twitterati. The result is the same.

It’s a community of people based around twitter. They are for the most part involved in the social media although a growing number of people are “tourists”, in other words they’re looking at this social networking system or tool and seeing how they can apply it to their own lives and business practices.

There’s another dimension. The invisible conversations that are taking place. With some people I have exchanged hundreds of messages in private, via direct messages. With other people it’s via google talk and in other cases via the skype chatrooms. In other words it’s a dynamic conversation across a number of instant messaging services. There are a number of uses. In some cases some conversations are too personal to have out in the open, with others the conversations are very focused and the community is a community through a skype chatroom or conference call. As a result there is a strong feel of belonging within certain communities.

Seesmic is one website and over time a community that has profited greatly from twitter, and I mean in terms of the members of the community rather than the wealth generated. As people created videos so a link with the video title would appear. As the “Seesmic” tag appeared more and more so a buzz was generated to create interest. As more people were invited through friends using twitter so more interest grew. It was also a two channel conversation. One channel being twitter where short messages could be exchanged easily and the second channel video where opinions could be exchanged through visual means. Quite a few parties took place then.

Many questions are also asked by those that use twitter. Some of these questions are easy to answer within 140 characters and a list of responses is left as a blog entry. It’s a quick method of getting a number of points of view efficiently. Occasionaly entire conversations come to life about a number of topics and multiple people talk to multiple people and after three or four hours results and conclusions are drawn up and a comprehensive blog post covering a range of issues can be written up.

Twitter is a simple way of keeping in touch with what friends are doing but it also creates links with people we would find very hard to get hold of using more contemporary methods such as facebook, e-mails and other. This is a glimpse of what the future of communication will hold. Skype, seesmic, gtalk, facebook are all there to add depth to the twitter conversations.

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