Monday, March 23, 2009

streamline your humiliation

i find this article - about a guy who said something dumb on twitter and cost himself a job - quite amusing. i should be more sympathetic, since who among us hasn't said something stupid and humiliating that we wished we could snatch back just as it escaped our lips?

Why waste valuable social networking hours getting yourself "Facebook fired," when Twitter allows you to humiliate yourself quickly, and in 140 characters or less?

honestly, i am having very mixed feelings about twitter lately. i think it might turn out to be silly. facebook, on the other hand, gives me the opportunity to 1) play scrabble a lot 2) make plans with local friends 3) re-connect with high school and college friends 4) see what two of my cousins are up to 5) stay in touch with bean's friends, 6) watch funny videos, 7) etc.

from the aforementioned article, a bit of wisdom:

Never post anything you wouldn’t say to your mom, boss and significant other.

i have always stuck to that, as it's an intrinsic part of my very own personal lady blogger code of ethics (the other part is "always ask people, especially your own children, if they're cool with you posting their photos").


Mary said...

did you follow all the links to the hilarious viral video:

heeeheee !

Liz Woodbury said...

that is SO funny!! hitler on twitter

Alex Steed said...

Via Twitter, Justin Ellis asked, "What is Twitter?" as one of his friends had asked him. I wrote the following, which at its end addresses the "silly" question a bit:

I've been asked this question every other day for the past month, and before that about once a week.

Chrystie Corns asked the same question last week and I sent her this response:


Twitter is a social networking tool that allows a user to "follow" other users. Users (sometimes obnoxiously referred to as "Tweeple") write Tweets - 140 character messages - about daily goings on and musings. Whereas Twitter was invented as a "life-casting" tool - a way to express to mutually interested users what is doing / where they are using it - it has, in the developed world, as least, turned a bit more towards "mind-casting":

The distinction is courtesy of Jay Rosen, a journalism professor and new media analyst at New York University. For him, Twitter is a new way to conduct a real-time, multi-way dialogue with thousands of his colleagues and fellow netizens. “Mindcasting came about when I was trying to achieve a very high signal-to noise-ratio,” he explained. This meant using his Twitter account to send out tweets pointing to the best media news and analysis he could find, 15 or 20 times a day. “I could work on the concept of a Twitter feed as an editorial product of my own.”


However the most interesting element to me, the thing that should be discussed the most rather than exceedingly easy go-to subjects like narcissism and verbal diarrhea and so on is that Twitter is, when used correctly, a listening device. It's a barometer of, not so much public opinion (obviously), but of the opinion of a digitally-active community. Corporations are waking up to that and using it as a newish tool / avenue to participate in an emerging transparency trend, and nonprofits and causes are using it to find out what activists, donors and volunteers are doing / want to be doing and tapping into these groups. Sure, there is a lot of off-putting behavior, and it might also be an off-putting idea to many, but the fact that I follow professors at NYU (see above), industry leaders (like Steve Case) and others, and I'm able to hear what they're saying, as if I'm in their offices and they're sharing with me what they find most interesting, is very exciting.

Further, it has long been the case that the most interesting activity in any medium or group is really only coming from 5-10 percent of participants at most. Look at the 60s, for example, where there are these amazing memories in which all of the youth were in the streets, begging for and demanding change. Well, the truth is that twice as many kids at that time identified themselves as "conservative" as do now, and that only a fraction of those who were identified as progressive, hippie, or new-Left, as it were, only a small fraction, in fact, were involved in any consistent, recurring political activity.

Liz Woodbury said...

thank you for that, alex. you are the perfect person to get feedback from on the twitter:silly? question, because you are someone who puts it to good use, and who doesn't let himself be driven insane by the ridiculous parts of it. i am also encouraged by your estimate of the percentage of interesting users.

i am still figuring out what use twitter might have for me personally (also for my business, but that's something for the other half of my brain to figure out). i realized recently that if certain people were kind of driving me crazy, i should just unfollow them instead of feeling cranky all day. that has made an enormous difference to my twitter-related emotions. i'd love to discuss this topic in person with you some time! (social networking, that is, not necessarily my twitter-related emotions.)

p.s. i'm guessing you voted NO.