To Be The “Pulse of the Planet”

Micro blogging. 140 character limitations. #Hashtags. RT: Retweets. All of which are integral to Twitter.

Just under five years old, Twitter exemplifies the new social norm: open, but limited, communication.

There’s no doubt that the world wide web has altered our way of connecting with people and sharing information, from how much and how often, to even with whom. Our expectations, behaviors, and relationships with each other and with organizations as sites incorporate tools that discourage people from posting longer comments.

The advantages of shorter posts are numerous, mostly because they demand less of our time. (On twitter, for instance, even the “Bio” box has a limit of 160 characters.) They not only encourage more people to join, but also give the impression of a more active community. According to technology writer Clive Thompson, this “ambient awareness” allows us to catch a glimpse of each other’s daily lives without ever having to pick up the phone and ask about someone’s day.

These are some examples of a personal twitter account. Thanks, Abby!

Yet, some critique the confining nature of twitter and even Facebook, where only the first 240 characters of a comment is displayed. How can you have a proper conversation via a couple short sentences (or in most cases, phrases)? Reading text online doesn’t convey the ethos and logos that are inherent in face-to-face communication.

Offline vs. online

Regardless, it’s interesting to note the self-regulating mechanism of twitter:

On sites like Reddit where there is coarser content, a moderating feature exists because people hide behind usernames. Comparatively, on purely social sites like twitter, people stay away from any poor behavior that could reflect negatively, since the content can be accessed by family and friends. At the same time, people are generally more likely to express their true feelings via the internet than in real life.

Does this behavior hold true for you?

Paul Graham, founder of Y Combinator and Hacker News states: “User behavior turns out to be surprisingly malleable. If people are expected to behave well, they tend to; and vice versa.” Do we have certain expectations for our friends or followers?

By the way, I enjoy this immensely. 🙂
P.S. The title refers to something the founder of twitter said if twitter had a billion users.
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