“Twitter Will Die From Popularity” Makes No Sense

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Twitter was once so useful to us. Now that all the celebrities are jumping on the bandwagon, Twitter will die. The party’s over. This is what the latest mantra among a bulk of the Twitterati seems to be these days. This line of reasoning may make sense for many other web services, but not for Twitter.

Long before Twitter became a mainstream buzzword, the Twitter stream was already jammed with social media ‘experts’ who told everybody else how to use Twitter. The good leaders among them helped spur Twitter’s use and eventual popularity. All of the talk about Twitter on Twitter could have killed Twitter, but it didn’t.

But many of the same bloggers who practically pleaded with the world to “start listening” and “joining the conversation” are now reviled or wigged out by the rising popularity of services like Twitter. Does this make any sense? Inasmuch as I understand what celebrity-status can do to (or for) Twitter, I think much of this latest bitch-festing falls under the category of “WTF?!”.

Of course celebrities with millions of followers can’t follow-back meaningfully. Of course they won’t be able to interact with every single fan all the time. That doesn’t mean they can’t use it creatively. Why wouldn’t they use Twitter? It’s as much their right as it for  Scoble or  you or  me. I want Kelso to raise money for Malaria (even if it’s a PR gimmick). I want Brad Pitt tweeting about poverty (well, maybe not tweet as much as lead). I want the Martin Luther King’s of the world to tweet, even if they can’t possibly follow everyone back. I want famous peeps to be remarkable in ways they couldn’t via traditional media. They can’t be if we don’t let them.

What, pray tell, is the point of services like Twitter if they’re only used by the Geek Squaderati? The whole point of Twitter is for it to become popular (at least from the aspect of its public crowd-sourcing potential).

How Twitter Can Make It

Twitter’s open API is its salvation: for all of the third-party clients that have been developed, we still haven’t seen the best of them. Applications for Enterprise, for instance, have yet to realize their full potential.

Will Twitter’s popularity bring more noise and misguided marketing tactics? Surely. That’s where third-party clients come into play. Filtering is another tool.

As long as creative and innovative clients and features continue to evolve around Twitter, the service will only get better and more relevant. As users realize the utility of micro-sharing, other custom-built “Twitters” will likely spring up too.

Use Twitter, Don’t Let It Use You

So forget about Kelso and Oprah if they bother your “purists” sensibilities (but pay attention to  Shaq, ‘cuz his tweets are hilarious). Twitter offers celebrities and news organizations tons of opportunities to be remarkable – and it’s up to the rest of us to help guide them in the right direction (unfollow can be a strong signal).

The Beatles didn’t start sucking because they became famous. And if they did, nobody had to buy their records.

Let’s start building creative applications for Twitter.

Let’s start using micro-sharing technology in health care.

Let’s start building good stuff like clinical trial applications that connect sick people with the right Pharma organizations.

Let’s start leading tribes of philanthropy using Twitter to make the lives of others less painful and more wonderful.

In short, let’s exploit Twitter’s popularity, not whine about its well-earned popularity.

We got what we wanted. Now let’s deal with it.

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Twitter and LSD – 25 Similarities

Twitter’s a trip, ain’t it? It’s the damndest thing: how can such a miniscule dose of 140 characters be a disrupter? Twitter is fast taking over the world in unpredictable ways. What was once a side project, a sort of laboratory experiment, has now seeped into the public domain and everyday more and more people are tripping tweeting. Twitter is influencing our culture in the same degree that LSD-25 represented a shift in cultural tectonics. And there’s no certainty about where the trip is headed.

In remembrance of  Bicycle Day, and the trippy week that Twitter has had, here’s a list of 25 similarities between Twitter and LSD:

  1. Time Distortion. LSD alters users’ perceptions of time. What seems like a minute can actually be hours. You can spend a whole day on Twitter thinking you only spent 20 minutes tweeting, only to find out the whole day’s gone.
  2. Mind-altering. Depending on who you follow and the links you click on, Twitter can be like a proverbial Rabbit Hole. Many users express alterations in how they interact with others online. They often claim to be exposed to new sources of information that they would otherwise never have encountered without Twitter. Just as mundane experiences can appear fantastic-plastic while on LSD, so too can the experience of otherwise trivial bits of information appear mind-expanding. The “kaleidoscopic play” of tweets and links can produce a peculiar heightened sense of altered consciousness. It is called Continuous Partial Attention.
  3. A Sense of Universal Connection. Users claim to be connected “in ways never felt before”. Whether on LSD or Twitter, users probably follow people who they otherwise would never meet, let alone “follow”.
  4. Units of Administration. LSD: microgram. Twitter: microblog.
  5. Formulation. LSD: blotter paper, sugar cubes, gelatin. Twitter: Web, TweetDeck, Seesmic Desktop, Tweetie, TwitterGadget…
  6. Routes of Administration. LSD: sublingual, intramuscular. Twitter: keyboard, mouse, cellphone, iPhone…
  7. San Fransisco. Albert Hoffman may have first synthesized LSD-25 in Switzerland, but San Fransisco became the colorful capital of the acid revolution. Grateful Dead’s address: 710 Ashbury Street, San Fransisco, CA 94117. Twitter Inc.’s address: 539 Bryant St., Suite 402 San Francisco, CA 94107.
  8. Bad Press. Twitter receives a lot of popular attention with stories focusing on its dangers. LSD faced similar publicity. Most of the bad press is founded on poor research and sensationalism.
  9. Celebrity Users. LSD: Cary Grant, Peter Fonda, Timothy Leary, Paul McCartney; Twitter: Shaq ( @The_Real_Shaq),  Stephen Fry, Kelso (@aplusk), and now @Oprah (who as of yet, doesn’t seem to be much of a user). Both LSD and Twitter had their band of pied-pipers too:  @ChrisBrogan and  @Pstachio
  10. Claims of Therapeutic Use. LSD: has been, and continues to be, used in  research. Twitter: user-claims that it can make you a better person.
  11. Threat to the Establishment. Many established institutions viewed LSD as a threat to national security, to civilization and as a corrupting influence on youth. Twitter received similar attention. Twitter, to an extent, is disrupting Google and traditional media. Even the US Army considers it as a potential tool for terrorism (which it may).
  12. Cultural Disruption. LSD changed how people dressed, communicated and perceived the world. Twitter is disrupting how people use the Web, how they communicate with each other and how they share their lives.
  13. Cult-like Evangelization. Proponents of LSD established cultish tribes of quai-religious proportions. Twitter users evangelize its benefits and often get upset when people outside their tribe “don’t get it” or bash the service.
  14. Communal Gatherings. LSD: Human be-ins. Twitter: Tweetups.
  15. Danger. Tripping in the wrong setting has gotten some poor souls killed, either by suicidal panic or lethal accidents while under the influence. On Twitter, some poor fools have lost their jobs.
  16. New Lingo. Just as LSD users developed their own vernacular, Twitter users have evolved their own twords.
  17. Unpredictable Effects. One never knows how someone with react to tripping or tweeting. A lot depends on personality, set and setting. An unfollow on Twitter could induce feelings of abandonment, despair and paranoia in some users.
  18. Brain Drain. The residual effects of LSD can last days after a twelve-hour trip. Users often report a sense of brain-drain. Twitter users often report similar experiences the day after tweeting for weeks on end.
  19. Distorted Sense of Self. LSD users often see themselves differently, either as an inflation of their ego-self or a deflation of self-esteem. Twitter can similarly induce feelings of distorted sense of self. For some a Retweet can be a peak experience.
  20. Users Appear Completely Insane to Non-users. When explaining the LSD experience to people who have never tripped, LSD users look like raving lunatics. Same thing with Twitter users.
  21. Words Don’t Adequately Describe the Experience. ‘Nuff said.
  22. Serendipity. The power of LSD and Twitter was discovered while working on an other project. Albert Hoffman was looking for a uterotonic while working at Sandoz Laboratories. On April 16, 1943 he accidentally ingested the substance and inadvertantly discovered its unusual effects, subsequently experimenting with its psychedelic powers. Evan Williams was looking for a collaborative tool while working at a podcasting company Odeo Inc. when he developed an idea for updating his friends.
  23. Rock Stars (Music). Yep, most rock stars where on acid. Look what NIN is doing now.
  24. False Promises of Paradise. Hunter S. Thompson on Timothy Leary’s flawed thinking on LSD: “All those pathetically eager acid freaks who thought they could buy Peace and Understanding for three bucks a hit“. The pied-pipers of LSD sold the misguided notion that it could buy a ticket into a heavenly paradise. Whatever good LSD may have offered the world was mangled by the delusions that so often are induced by overhype. Twitter faces a similar challenge. The current wave of marketing gurus who promise marketing-salvation will prove equally disappointing to many. Twitter has a place in marketing. Unfortunately there will be many who don’t know where it is.
  25. The World: Never The Same. LSD, for good or ill, forever altered the course of history. It helped to loosen up a mostly uptight culture and came during a time of massive cultural upheaval. Twitter is loosening up (some) corporate cultures by breaking down the walls of insular cultures. It’s disrupting Google (Google “Pistachio” and find out what I mean). Twitter is changing the way we connect, collaborate and communicate. It’s also ushering a new paradigm for how we interface with the web. Just as LSD added another dimension to how we perceive things, Twitter is offering a new lens through which to view the web.

The purpose of this list is to have fun and not to condone the use of LSD or even Twitter. Both LSD and Twitter are potent agents of change. They each hold the promises and dangers of a brave new world. But let’s not take either too seriously:

Drugs won’t show you the truth. Drugs will only show you what it’s like to be on drugs. – Brad Warner

The same can be said of Twitter: it won’t show you the truth. It just offers you a new way to seek it out. But the effort has to come from you, not a drug or shiny new toy.

Twitter is our time’s LSD. Tune in, turn on and  tweet out.

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Tiny Dots, Spider Webs and Burning Moths

Who are you and what are you doing?

You’re connected to Tom who’s connected to Heather who’s connected to Xiang who’s connnected to Olga who’s also connected to Tom who’s connected to…

What’s all this connecting doing? What’s going on? What are you becoming?

THE GLITTERING SWARM

Your brain is a swarm of invisible dots.

Your consciousness is the seamless result of connections of tiny mechanisms (neurons) firing other tiny dots (electrons) off at each other. Your consciousness is composed of hundreds of trillions of interneuronal connections exploding every second of our life – a thought bursting here, an emotion glittering there.

The swarming network that is your concsiousness connects you with the rest of the world. It connects you with the past, the present and the future. You’re an entire universe walking through the Universe (or is it many?).

We are lenses through which the world sees the itself. We’re tiny dots of energy. We are a glittering swarm lighting up the dark. We’re candle-flame.

CONNECTING DOTS AROUND THE WORLD

Everyday it’s getting easier and easier to connect dots around the world, to see the world through new lenses. You push a button and you follow one more dot, each dot another brain or bot.

Pretty soon you’ll be able to follow anybody in the world. More importantly, you can lead too.

What happens to our world as all these dots, these tiny universes, string along together? What changes? What’s created? What’s destroyed?

When thinking about social networks, what are you connecting? Who or what are you following? Are you leading more than you follow?

CAN YOU SEE WHAT’S SPINNING?

Do you see how important it is to understand the nature of connecting with whoever – or whatever – you’re connecting with?

You and I are spinning a vast living web of dots and none of us know for sure what we’re catching.

In today’s world, connection isn’t just linking two more dots together. It’s enabling more dots to fire off at each other and create a larger swarm: to signal Yes or No or Maybe.

Those threads weaving between the dots (among ourselves): what is it making?

Just what are you? Spider? Or moth?

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