When you haven’t seen something fast growing for several weeks such as a child or Russian vine the temptation to say, ‘my haven’t you grown!’ is very great.
This urge should be avoided as it annoys those concerned, by patronising kids or rebuking gardeners. Yet returning from a short tweet break this morning I muttered these very words on reading about the fifth anniversary of twitter so breaking this rule of the blindingly obvious.
Yet leaping to my own defence it is not just the speed of growth with twitter that is dramatic. It is the manner of its growth and what it has done to the way internet-based opinion and influence has developed that is very interesting, and weirdly so. A really interesting post on Elise’s Review prompted this thought with the question ‘Is social media becoming more about mass broadcasting than conversation?’
Twitter’s growth has been about amplification of opinions, influence and conversations. At times this has made it appear more like broadcasting and certainly it has made the conversation louder, shorter and less genteel. Yet in interacting with media and blogs I would argue that twitter is amplifying and sharing ideas that often start in long form in other media platforms. This is different from broadcasting although it does make the conversation less sophisticated in many cases. I would describe it as a broader conversation rather than a broadcast.
Indeed as twitter grows its ability to amplify grows too so amplifying the amplifier. Some bloggers who began as highly focused ‘Influentials’ talking to only niche groups have become stars and engaged in very broad conversations. They often start to post less frequently but when they do they reach bigger, much bigger numbers.
The post pointed out that now more people get news from the Internet than traditional newspapers. This too is a part of the amplification process with e-zines merging with communities and a more dialogue driven view of the news. The key dynamic here is the way twitter helps ideas and stories leapfrog between niche communities. Again this seems to be of the great strengths of twitter it takes news from niches and can make them part of a broad community.
As it grows this does not mean twitter is all about these broader conversations. Clearly there a niche areas such as middle aged cycling that have drawn together quite large but discrete groups who don’t make it as trending topics. But even these conversations have become broader. So back to the blindingly obvious not always being easy to adopt I quote one point in the Elise’s Review below:
If Your Blog Doesn’t Have A “Tweet This” Or “Like This” Button On It, It Means That You Are Not Cool.
And yes – we know ours doesn’t. yet.