Lovely, lovely blog post by Howard Rheingold on Twitter literacy. He list his reasons for using Twitter. Even though I don’t agree with all of them, I am reproducing them here in executive summary format because most of his reasons do make sense to me:
Openness – anyone can join, and anyone can follow anyone else;
Immediacy – it is a rolling present;
Variety – You are responsible for whoever else’s babble you are going to direct into your awareness;
Reciprocity – people give and ask freely for information they need;
A channel to multiple publics – I’m a communicator and have a following that I want to grow and feed.
Asymmetry – Few people follow exactly the same people who follow them. I follow people who inform or amuse me, and I hope to do the same for people who follow me;
A way to meet new people – Connecting with people who share interests has been the most powerful social driver of the Internet since day one;
A window on what is happening in multiple worlds, some of which I am familiar with, and others that are new to me;
Community-forming – Twitter is not a community, but it’s an ecology in which communities can emerge;
A platform for mass collaboration: I forgive the cute name of Twestival because this online charity event has raised over a quarter of a million dollars via Twitter, funding 55 clean water projects for 17,000 people in Ethiopia, Uganda, and India.
Searchability – Twitter users developed the convention of adding a tag with a hash sign in front of it, like #hashtag, that enable them to label specific topics and events. When I recently participated in a live discussion onstage, we projected in real time the tweets that included a hashtag for the event, an act that blended the people in the audience together with the people on the panel in a much more interactive way than standard Q&A sessions at the end of the panel. After years as a public speaker and panelist, I found it fascinating and useful to have a window on what my previously silent audience was thinking while I was talking.
Disclaimer: I ‘unfollowed’ Howard Rheingold two weeks ago because his tweets about painting do not interest me. His views on social media and journalism do. I rely on other people such as Marcus O’Donnell to curate his tweets for me.