Digital Democracy

A blog for the course New Media and a Democratic Society

Twitter has gained a convert

Posted by clocke22 on September 19, 2010

A confession: I had never used Twitter prior to this assignment and quite frankly, I was very reluctant to do so.  I already feel overwhelmed by other technologies available and I didn’t want to check my Twitter account (@clocke22) a zillion times a day as I do my Facebook account.   BUT, I am pleased to say that Twitter is, in some ways, the best of Facebook.  I am a “fan” of various political/academic organizations and I enjoy seeing them pop up in my news feed.  With the Twitter feed that I created, it was the best of the best.  I can get right to the focus of issues important to me personally, politically and academically.  Twitter, though, with its concise messages and links and lack of visual clutter of Facebook, is refreshing.  In fact, I am considering forgoing my daily Facebook check-ins with daily Tweet check-ins.

Technological Innovation:  While OECD discourse states that technological innovation will result from user-generated contact, Shepherd points out that users are still looked at as consumers and objects of marketing campaigns.  I think it is good to point out that the fabric of Web 2.0 and user-generated content is, most of the time, a for-profit corporation.  But, in using Twitter, I found that the lack of ads on the sidebar pages and the simple technology made me more comfortable.  Add to that the fact that Twitter has not really been profitable and you get the best you can expect from a corporation.

Global Village:  The “fabled global village” of OECD is criticized by Shepherd as a myth perpetuated by sites like Twitter, which was one sight with a very large number of users generating content (disproportionate to the number of users as a whole).  And, as Shepherd points out, geographic and real-life limits do exist even among Twitter users.  I think the global village concept might more aptly be called a “national village” in that while I felt more in touch with American thinkers and newsmakers (i.e., Harvard Citizen Media Law Project, Nicholas Kristof, TED), this was mediated by my own geographical and language limits.  Also, the celebrity aspect skews the concept of a worldview.

Diversity of Opinions:  This ties in quite a bit with the previous global village concept, and Shepherd specifically targets the concept that with a more diverse group of opinions available, democracy will be strengthened.  She points out that rather, we are parsed into demographic bits, with our thoughts, whims and clicks calculated to produce a (consumer) profile.  Again, I think she has a very valid point, but Twitter is a bit different.  For example, Facebook stores all types of information whereas the Twitter set up process is pretty simple.  While much can be gained from the types of people/organizations I follow (it is pretty clear I have an interest in journalism and democracy), this is more benign than Facebook, which will tell you who I am literally friends with as well as where I go, what I like, etc.


4 Responses to “Twitter has gained a convert”

  1. I’m glad you found Twitter useful. I personally really like it to keep track of current events from multiple news sources. If you find any good journalism lists (or make one) let me know!

    I was wondering what you thought of sponsored Trending Topics? Do you think they detract majorly from the ad-free Twitter?

  2. clocke22 said

  3. tinamomo said

    I quite agree with you on redefining the concept of “global village” as “national village”. Although there is no visible border between countries on the Internet, there are, however, language barriers, time-zone variations and regulation limits which disable us to connect with the rest of the world. That explains why so many Chinese students stay on Renren (China’s largest social network site) instead of Facebook even when they are in the U.S. But for some people, Internet is the most advanced tool to engage in democratic activism. When I was browsing the Twitter list, under the topic “China”, I found many Chinese people use Twitter as a platform to broadcast their democratic views and feelings towards the government which might be blocked in China. I also agree with you that the simple layout and function of Twitter makes it easy for people to keep track of what they are interested in.

  4. I don’t mean to cheerlead for Twitter, but for my purposes it’s a lot more useful than Facebook. I can understand how that might be flipped around for someone with a different job or set of priorities!

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