Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Earliest Tweets

I may have read too much into the Κατηγορίαι, but let's continue anyway with today's post.

When we're early to a party we witness things about the party that folks coming later won't necessarily notice. Things like the names of the other early comers, before it gets difficult to hear and make out faces in the darkened and overly crowded room. The color of the walls in the kitchen with all the lights on. How clean or dirty that shag rug is that's all over the living room. The brand of stereo pumping out the AirTunes. The nice fresh new handbag the hostess got on sale at Marshall's only just that morning. OMG there are a zillion details about that party!

So many details in fact it is entirely possible not all of them will ever be recorded. We could make some up later, sure, but the details are countless. Countless. A number hard to grasp. So many, and to some people details that could rightly be far too mundane to notice. I mean I'm talking about just some dumb details about a party, right? I'm there early. Friends of mine or not, those coming later won't necessarily notice details about the earliest stage of the party I'm witness to right now. It's also true the late comers will have a different perspective than me about the party, and some details, many might even be called insights, will come from them and not me or my fellow early comers. Those are facts about thinking about parties. Which brings me to this here party's - this partay involving my writing and your reading - discussion topics.

Scope of Tweets
Do we suppose that people didn't share information they now tweet about prior to Twitter launching in July 2006 (when it was twttr.com)? What forms of communication from times prior to 2006 could be representative of the types of information flowing through tweets today? The truth is many, maybe all forms of communication could be thought of as tweetable today. Most especially today with sharing links, hashtags, and even annotations. These are contenders: The short message written on a napkin your mom left for you on the counter. The quick email to a friend. My IM status when you're feeling spunky or expressive. The long form letter you wrote to your dad, then stuck in an envelope addressed to him. The news headlines, the articles' contents, all the pictures. The note your mom wrote in your favorite book when you were but two years old. The commercial break's catchy ditty.

Reach of Tweets
Facts stand alone and are used to construct Situations. Information, useful for making Decisions or Judgements about a particular Situation, is a binding of the Facts by a Person, for better or worse, about a Situation. Information has the potential to grant a Person a certain degree of relevancy among other people who may wish to consider the Situation in this way or that. When a Person's Information has value to other people, that Person's Information is said to flow. It may flow like a brook in the hot dry Summer or faster than Niagra Falls in the Spring. When other people find a Person's Information has little or no value to them, they become End Users, those Persons who do not pass Information. But a Person's Information needn't stop flowing because of the existence of End Users. It may stop, but can also flow now or later or never. So yes, a Person't Information may start to flow again, for though End Users became such because a Person's Information once had little or no value to them, they can cease to be End Users when a Person's Information becomes something of value to them, at which point they may either pass along a Person's Information, or moreover, they may themselves become a Person with Information to share that may even contain additional Facts as to why a former End User became a driving force in the Flow of Information.
Information in tweets effectively never goes away. A Tweet is quasi-permanent for the sake of this post. And to make even that last caveat moot, when anyone on Twitter tweets information they heard about, it becomes something of their own. Countless sources spring up around similar collections of Facts. If a Person has a degree of influence among their followers who chance to see and react to that Person's Information, it will flow to the next phalanx in the following degree of separation. Tweets can march, fly and flow across the globe, and those that do can be said to have satisfied the conditions in the observations above, to such a degree that they have indeed flown.

Depth of Information
Can all the information that once existed be re-tweeted? Will it matter?