I'm just trying Twitter for a few weeks now, and i would describe it's fascination as a somehow sentimental feeling of coming home, to a place i never were. Global Village. The Real Second Life. Like finding myself in a Frank Capra film for the new digital age.
In fact, Twitter is basically a new kind of collectively writing ourselves into existence, using Very Small Pieces Loosely Joined. It is „falling into relationships that ... imperceptibly deepen, like furrows worn into a stone hallway by the traffic of slippers.“ It is leaving a stream-shaped "aircraft contrail everywhere we go". A delicate aesthetical experience, which is a personal experience, and vice versa. (Sometimes it may turn into feeling like being stoned to death by croutons.)
It is kind of a Multiplayer Identity Game: About throwing in just the right amount of privacy. It is about keeping the balance, and about keeping the right distance. It is about not writing most of the things that happen in First Live.
It is not about exchanging „messages“ (though that can happen too). It is „texting“ in the exact sense of the word. It is not like SMS, because it creates a cloud of micro-statements that is staying over the heads of the twitterists, influencing further life even without ever re-reading the archive.
SMS is secondary „oral“, while Twitter is „literate“. (Teenage SMS may serve a similar purpose, when a group is posting so many shared presence-SMS that it feels at one point like all messages being present at once, filling the air, creating a social place.)
It is not really about „staying in touch“. It is creating something completely new. It is about building a community with microcontent software.
I find Twitter the most powerful when i use it through the mobile phone: feeling connected and at home in a Third Place while staying at all the non-places of supermodern digitalized life (the car an d the plane, the office, public transport, the waiting rooms, the shopping malls).
I don't think Twitter should be built into a platform for all kinds of things (note-taking and so on). Maybe they should build in one (but only one!) filter: publishing to „family“ versus publishing to „friends“. Adding more features would probably destroy the experience.
interesting, by the way, with Web 2.0 apps is how the seamfulness / visibiliy of applications is NOT a problem, like the Ubicomp dogma did assume, but a way of creating semantic richness and experiential diversity. Like using Firefox for the basic digital life, MS Internet Explorer for doing SAP-like work duties, and, say, Opera for browsing the Redlight Web ... and a bunch of other micro-apps and widgets for all facets of digital life, which is real, of course.
(best collection of links and thoughts so far that i know of is at Infocult, pointing to Beth's blog. i agree very much which Liz Lawley's views. i will try to do a more analytical follow-up on the twitter / Second Life / Third Place phenomenon.)Posted by martin at March 18, 2007 10:34 AM