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We join spokes together in a wheel, but it is the emptiness of the center hole that makes the wagon move.
We shape clay into a pot, but it is the emptiness inside that holds whatever we want.
I have been using a convention on Twitter for the past few months, a bit of microsyntax, and I guess I should spell out my intent.
When I am writing a tweet that is principally focused on me, as a person, I enclose the tweets in parentheses, like this:
(moves desk to standing orientation)
This is intended as information of a personal-but-not-private nature, the sort of thing that might be interesting for those following me as an individual, as opposed to me as a public figure. And yes, I am a public figure, and you are too.
My point in this post isn’t a rehash of the privacy/publicy argumentarium, but just a mild advocacy for the use of the parens for these asides. And the hope that Twitter clients in the near future would allow people to dial in/out the asides intended for the inner circle.
Behind this is the groupings concept: you don’t have to be invited to be a member of my inner circle. It’s not — and really shouldn’t be — controlled by me. It’s a decision that others make: how much does this other person matter to you? If you like someone enough to know when they raise or lower their standup/sitdown desk, or what the weather is from their window, or what kind of sandwich they ordered today, then tune in to their asides.
And those who want to filter out that stuff: please do. I am creating enough social exhaust without it, I am sure.
So: please start using asides, and maybe we can get Twitter clients — maybe even Twitter — to support them, just like they did @mentions, retweets, and #hashtags.
Twitter is preparing to roll out a fairly significant rethinking of the user experience for the microstreaming service. They are planning to bring the social gestures that users make out in the open. These gestures are the actions of following people, favoriting tweets, retweets, or adding people to lists. Some of that gestural information has been available in Twitter to date, but most of it hasn’t been found in the stream along with the tweets themselves.
The change will come by changing the ‘@mentions’ tab into two:
Specifically, the “@Mentions” tab on twitter.com is being replaced by two new tabs: “@USERNAME” and “Activity”. These two streams will add an additional layer to Twitter and to Tweets themselves, a layer showing the social activity around them.
The @USERNAME (obviously, USERNAME will be replaced by your Twitter name) stream will still show your @replies, but it will also show things like when someone follows you, when someone favorites one of your Tweets, when someone retweets one of your Tweets, or when someone adds you to a list.
The Activity stream will show you all of those things, but related to all of the people you follow on Twitter. In other words, you can see if a connection has retweeted a Tweet, or if they followed someone new, etc.
Siegler doesn’t say that the current Timeline tab — which shows the tweets from you and all that you follow — will remain unchanged, but that is my interpretation at present.
Surfacing social gestures in general — and making favoriting a social preoccupation instead of a not very robust bookmarking tool — is a great way to make Twitter a richer social experience. In fact, this shift feels like Twitter has taken a long hard look at Tumblr, and has decided to capitalize on that social networked blogging platform’s success, which is driven to a great extent by the richness of social gestures, which are presented in stream. Here’s a snippet of my Tumblr stream, showing gestures and a post:
I wrote a piece not too long ago, What Twitter Could Learn From Tumblr, which focused on the efforts that Tumblr has recently put into its support of tags, and curation of tagged topics. (For those still not familiar with Tumblr, you might read Comparing Tumblr To Wordpress.)
But it seems like the social gestures of Tumblr — which are natively presented in the Tumblr stream — will be the first innovation to jump from Tumblr to Twitter.
I wonder if Twitter will take the ‘notes’ idea from Tumblr, as well? In Tumblr, all the social gestures associated with a post can be displayed on that post’s page (depending on the template settings). So If I post something that garners a great deal of interest — getting liked and reposted a great deal — there is a long series of gestures shown on that page. In a sense, the post has it’s own associated stream: all the gestures that it caused.
On Twitter this would mean that the page associated with a tweet — the one reached by clicking on the tweet’s timestamp — might show all the favorites and retweets tied to the tweet. Will have to see if this will be done.
And oh, there is still all that work to be done on tags, which Twitter still doesn’t seem to be very interested in, yet.
Frederic Lardinois, The Short Lifespan of a Tweet: Retweets Only Happen Within the First Hour
Judging from the latest data from social media analytics and monitoring service Sysomos, for the majority of users, Twitter is indeed mostly a broadcast medium. After analyzing over 1.2 billion tweets, the Sysomos team found that only 29% of tweets actually produce a reaction - that is, a reply or a retweet. According to Sysomos, just 6% of all tweets are retweeted and these retweets have a very short lifespan. Virtually all retweets happen within the first hour after the original tweet.
my two cents
I have found that some tweets have a long life, and others don’t. I bet it is more of an exponetial distribution. I think it would be interesting to see this plotted as a curve instead of a pie.