Why Twitter works

Post de hoje do blog de Don Dodge, da Microsoft!

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 Why Twitter works

Kevin Marks wrote a brilliant article “How Twitter Works in Theory” that explains in theory why Twitter works so well in practice. The reasons are only obvious after you read them, and they have implications for other forms of communication like email, blogs, IM, and even newspapers. You should read @KevinMarks post to get the full flavor of his thinking, but here is my riff on the subject.
My Stream – Unlike email where anyone can send a message or request, Twitter is only from people I select. I can adjust the flow (more or less) and content (add or delete a person) to suit my needs. It is a satisfying and liberating stream of collective consciousness from people I know and respect.
 Faces – Twitter is like Facebook in that each message has a friendly face attached to it. The picture makes it more personal and friendly. Wouldn’t it be nice if all your emails had a face attached to them…and a “LinkedIn style” social graph that showed how you are connected to them?
Following vs. Friending vs. Requesting – On Twitter you decide who to “follow” with no implicit requirement that they “friend” you in return. Facebook requires “friends” to be reciprocal, which implies a relationship that shouldn’t be ignored. Twitter is like a casual encounter while Facebook is a continuing relationship. Email demands attention, action, and following through on requests. Twitter is so liberating.
Communicate without Filters – Ashton Kutcher @aplusk is a master of social media, especially Twitter. He was the first person to amass 1 million followers, and now has over 3 million. Why? Because he communicates openly and honestly about his daily life, in real time. Quickly, effortlessly, no PR filter, and no response required. His Twitter feed provides a glimpse into his personal life and that of his wife Demi Moore who goes by @MrsKutcher on Twitter, and has over 1 million followers of her own.
No Guilt – Do you ever feel guilty about not reading/responding to email? I do. Every time I see 35 Unread Messages in bold, I feel obligated to tackle it. Maybe it is the “Type A” personality in all of us that compels us to conquer the task. Twitter is a guiltless pleasure. No “unread” messages count staring at you. Read as much or as little as you like…whenever you like.
No Response Necessary – Email is serious work with real action and responses required. Twitter is fun, enlightening, and entertaining. Twitter doesn’t demand a response or acknowledgement.
 Information will find me – I think @RobertScoble said “If I need to know something, it will find me”. Actually, Robert does a great job of filtering information for all of us and sending just what we need to know. He is famous for saying “I read it so you don’t have to”. That is essentially what Twitter does; filters information from people we trust, and delivers it in bite size chunks.
Bite Size Chunks – Twitter forces brevity and clarity. You can decide in 5 seconds if something is worth reading, digesting, remembering or not. Blogs and email allow unlimited length and pontification. There is something about 140 characters that forces the writer to be clear and concise…or ignored and forgotten.
What can we learn from Twitter? There are elements of Twitter that could be applied to other forms of communication. Twitter, Facebook, IM, texting, blogs, email, and cell phones all work uniquely well for certain forms of communication. They are different, but effective. We use them all effortlessly and choose which tool is best in each situation. Until I read Kevin Marks’ article I didn’t fully understand why Twitter works so well.
Does Twitter work for you?

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