Tuesday, May 19, 2009


How could I not post this? Celebrities are naturally gravitating to Twitter as a medium by which they can further boost their fame, and further inculcate parasocial relationships and parasocial interaction, relationships and interaction that feel like they are two-way, but are actually altogether one-sided . And while this is increasing the overall popularity of Twitter, and its value as a medium of communication--the value of any interactive, non-hierarchical network increases the more people adopt it, which is why Facebook seems to be undergoing a snowball effect in regard to its growth--from the point of view of Twitter pioneers and purists, the influx of celebrities, and fans as well, is ruining the medium (someone called it the new MySpace for this reason!). This reminds me of how the introduction of the World-Wide Web in the nineties led to a sudden proliferation of commerical websites online, which horrified all of the early intenet users who had gone around saying things like, information just wants to be free! Anyway, this little cartoon is by the same folks who brought us Twouble with Twitters (see my previous post, The Twitlight Zone), and well worth inclusion here on Blog Time Passing:

So, there you have it, a flood of celebritweets! So say it with me: Noah Moah! Let's go build an ark, my friends, the storm clouds are gathering...


Mike Plugh said...

I've been saying the same thing for a while now, in a different vein. It was true of social networking prior to the recent presidential election, that the grassroots were finding a niche for organizing and message generation/distribution via places like Facebook and MySpace. The Obama campaign, in particular, was attuned to this trend and incorporated it successfully to raise money and build a database of supporters. While they were successful, it also sparked a kind of co-opting of the grassroots quality of the medium by a group of major political players. They happened to be the political players that I supported, so hooray, but I suppose the Ron Paul people must feel differently about the outcome of their own efforts.

Twitter was a minor player in the expansion of the grassroots political movers and shakers, but we've seen more than a few talking heads from the Sunday shows 'tweeting' in recent days, including politicians, pundits, and anchors. For the grassroots activists, this is a signal that the medium may be jumping the shark, so to speak. It's great for niche communication to a wide audience, but it hardly feels like the exclusive club that provides a sense of 'circling the wagons' that it used to.

Nothing qualitatively has changed about Twitter, but I think there's a psychological element at play that involves the desire to have exclusivity in messaging. The barriers of Twitter are really few, in terms of accessibility, which is why it was a great grassroots political tool, but it also means that there's far too much noise in the system to filter out the value as an organizing/messaging tool.

I find that the platforms that have sprung up as compliments to Twitter are its saving grace. I use TweetDeck to customize my 'channels' of communication and thereby filter out unwanted noise. I can separate communication into columns based on groups I assign, searches I perform, and so on.

I think these environments will continue to reinvent themselves, or rather that innovative users will push them to evolve, and they will persist as intriguing homes for communication. Thank goodness we live in an era where the media of communication are accessible, and the creation of environments (not to mention content) is also possible.

Bruce I. Kodish said...

Unfortunately, my wise friend, intelligent Twittering, as you have been able to do, seems all too rare. I admit I do base that statement on a rather limited set of data as a sometimes Twitter-reader only. I have a fear about signing up and then getting sucked in to the distracting, rather pointless activity 'sent up' by this cartoon.