« »
February 27, 2008 » 2:15 pm

Twitter, Facebook, and Social Boundaries

Speaking of tweets and Twitter, I finally succumbed and activated my Twitter account a few weeks ago. Come follow me! I had many reasons for doing so, but the kicker was probably learning that Twitter is in fact for old people. Seriously, my main reason was that I’ve been blog-free for many months, and I wanted to maintain a lighter-weight Visible Pulse for sharing ideas and letting people know that I was still alive.    (MTL)

Unlike my experience with this blog, I initially found it hard to start tweeting. I love to share ideas, but I don’t like talking about myself. My blog has been great for that, and I figured I’d use Twitter the same way. But it’s hard to do in 140 characters. It’s much easier to mention what I had for breakfast than it is to share some brilliant new insight, although simply tweeting “Eureka!” probably fulfills the latter need quite nicely.    (MTM)

So to get going on Twitter, I used a trick that I never had to use with my blog. I built an audience. I started following people, and many of them reciprocated. Now tweeting was about having a conversation with the people in my network. I didn’t have to do this with my blog, because I was motivated enough to start sharing my ideas without it. Getting that audience simply furthered that motivation (the past few months not withstanding).    (MTN)

This is obvious stuff to people who already blog or tweet regularly, but it’s not obvious to those who don’t, and when it’s explicitly understood, it can be used to your advantage. This is why Pattern Languages are so useful.    (MTO)

It would be interesting to do some analytics on tweeting based on size of social networks. For example, do people with larger social networks tweet more?    (MTP)

Another nice Twitter pattern is the character limit: Constrained Space. Many people have told me that they find blogging intimidating, because they feel a lot of pressure to actually write something. The character constraint relieves that pressure. It’s easier to come up with a 140 character message than it is to fill a blank slate. Size of space matters.    (MTQ)

The issue I’m now having with Twitter is with social boundaries, and not surprisingly, the cause of this isn’t Twitter at all. It’s Facebook. My close colleagues know that I am obsessed with Facebook, not because of some deep seeded need to feel like I have a lot of friends, but because I think it is one of the most well-designed online tool I have ever seen. There are all of these well thought out social patterns deeply embedded in the tool.    (MTR)

Because of this, it’s no surprise that so many people across so many different networks use it. My pattern for studying Social Network sites has always been to only connect to people who connect to me first, then to watch what happens. With the vast majority of sites, it’s the same group of people end up pinging me. In other cases, certain niches become apparent. Facebook is the first Social Network tool I’ve used where people across almost all of the different communities of which I’m a part have found and reached out to me.    (MTS)

The problem is that Social Networks are not frictionless. You can’t just mix them all up and expect everything to be wonderful. A while back, Pamela Dingle told a great anecdote that wonderfully portrayed some of the unsavory consequences of these boundary issues.    (MTT)

One of the things that exacerbates Facebook’s challenges with Social Network friction is its open API. For a lot of reasons, Facebook has encouraged people across many different networks to intentionally come together in a shared space. However, its API allows people to bring new networks to the same shared space unintentionally.    (MTU)

I enjoy the status updates on Facebook, and so when I started tweeting, I decided to sync Twitter with my Facebook status. By doing so, my audience went from a somewhat closed community of folks who speak the same Shared Language to a much larger community of folks, many of whom think I’ve gone nuts. These include people like high school friends, most of whom find the idea of posting a picture that’s not hidden behind a password absolutely ludicrous.    (MTV)

Those of us who have been part of Identity Commons for a long time have been talking about these issues for ages, yet it’s fascinating to experience them firsthand. I don’t find them that big a deal, because I have well-defined boundaries that I think work with my different networks. I don’t mention people by name unless I know they’re comfortable with it or I’m attributing an idea to someone. I’ll happily write about what I had for breakfast (Tartine bread and gruyere this morning), but I won’t write about my dating life.    (MTW)

I don’t know how long the Twitter experiment will last. It still feels a bit uncomfortable, but it’s been fascinating, and I probably won’t stop anytime soon.    (MTX)

Tags: , , , , , , ,

« »

Leave a Reply