Asymmetric conversation on Twitter

I was upset at Twitter for a simple reason: many (A-listers) claim that it’s fantastic to have many people answer your questions. I’ve tried: it’s not — at least for what seams to me to be a standard account: around hundred followers, and as many followees, one third of each being respectively stars and spamers, one half being physical friends. I barely ever have any relevant answer any to simple question, and I’ve tried most subject. I’ve also tried @-replying, links to blog posts, talking to perfect strangers: you get significant kudos — but insights are dimes a penny.  So far, the service is mostly a terrific link-source, better (complementary rather) then Hacker News. Therfore, a good service, disruptive for the press or stars mostly — like blogs were — but not a revolution on human interaction like Facebook is proving to be.

I was upset, until a friend of mine, who is helping VIPs to tweet (Nobody active yet, and I advised him against using any ghost Twitterer, or at least to reveal them if he does — this blog will keep its strict policy of not revealing any juicy news) asked me about hecklers. I tried to explain to him the rule about seeing @-replies (you only see the replies from people you follow to people that you follow) and it made me realize: Twitter managed to set up a fantastic tool for stars, a great filter for context-dependant elements. If you are well-known and someone comments your last tweet, then only people following him get to know what this is about: hecklers talk only loud enough to have their friends hear them. As a star, you can repeat what they say and make them famous if you need — but you don’t have your hard-earned audience hi-jacked by commenter like you kind-of have in blog comments. Asymmetric conversations are finally possible, and can happen in parallel, with little interference.

This structure (character limit excluded) does resolve the comment issue that I’ve mentioned earlier: a commenter cannot value easly his contribution between blogs with the same coherence that a blogger can. Because of that, that kind of rule (you only see replies from those your follow to someone you also follow) seems very important to me now; Facebook only partially does it, with comments on Fan pages (your friends have priority, but a couple of comments can always appear to encouarge you to go further). I’d love to know that @ev and @biz are aware of it and don’t kill it in another re-tweaking of their principles.

There is still one thing that would be great: a RT filter that would delete any non-commented RT of a message that you’ve seen already — but I do realize that this wouldn’t help partially attentive Twitterer notice important news. Being only almost exhaustive myself, I like to know that I can still skip the river from time to time.


About Bertil

I'm a PhD student in Digital Economics, and I love viennoiserie. Je suis un doctorant en économie (numérique) et j'aime la viennoiserie.
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2 Responses to Asymmetric conversation on Twitter

  1. hectorpal says:

    This is still a mess, but we’ll figure it out. Good blog. I’m going to add it to my reader.

  2. Bertil Hatt says:

    Actually, it became a mess just after I blogged about it (I do have this uncanny ability to be followed by pandemonium without any identifable causality). I’m glad Twitter finally kept an actionnable policy, and not just so that I don’t have to update this blog.

    Thank you for following me; don’t hesitate to say what you’d like this blog to be.

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