It has taken three weeks of twittering and an intensive Social Networking course for me to get Twitter. My original challenges were my preconceived ideas about the medium’s limitations and the dense and seemingly foreign language being used within tweets. Because I was highly motivated to make good use of the medium I struggled with each and every tweet, rarely having success achieving much meaning in so few characters. However, there was a tipping point within our Managing Social Networks (#mact506) class where Twitter activity accelerated and conversations opened up; as evidenced by the lack of traffic on the class’ private Facebook page.
The plain, simple and filtered access that Twitter provides is elegant and powerful. This perception gelled after @kirsten_bauer ‘s review of Jodi Dean’s “The Limits of Communication”. Specifically, Dean’s pessimistic view of the limits of human attention, information transferability and her suggestion that information declines with wide circulation had me hold these assertions up against Twitter’s functionality. Are humans not fully capable of managing the flow of information by filtering their stream based on who they follow and more specifically by using hash tag filters? At what point does a tweet ever degrade? How can a referencing URL not say the same thing to each and every person who follows it?
Really, how Twitter functions answers many of Dean’s critiques by proving them wrong. As far as I am concerned, James Cameron’s Tree of Souls is the perfect analog for Twitter’s ability to put us in touch with collective consciousness.
Twitter is a tool to harvest weak links, track important information and to connect with the Zeitgeist.