Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Of Talking, Of Listening, and Of Being Talked About
The stemming "from"
The conversation "with"
These exhibits illustrate a simple conversational string. The string is not pieced together neatly, but each segment shares an element with another segment that links them all together.
What else might these exhibits illustrate? Is Twitter a kind of open email? If it is a kind of open email, how, for the betterment of mankind (because that's all that really matters these days), will Facebook's newly announced messaging platform build on the advancements which Twitter's open message system has already brought to human communication?
Jack Dorsey, co-founder of Twitter, brought the ubiquitous status update to project twttr: what am I doing? Biz Stone, co-founder of Twitter, brought the other key ingredient: what happens if it is all open?
"Think of it," Biz told me in May 2008 expounding on thoughts he had held for years about what an open email system might be like,"if it was all open, you could search on it, find new people to talk to, a lot of information passes through." This is probably why "updates" (pre "tweet" being defined as such) came default as open messages in 140 characters or less. This feature is fundamental to Twitter. It is of lofty importance. It is, in fact, exactly how Twitter transforms the barriers and boundaries to human communication we once had into old barriers and boundaries. All those old boundaries. Them olden barriers. Like smoke signals, Morse Code, telegrams, Pony Express, printing press, not to mention borders, continents, planets.
First, I really hope longer form linked conversations inside Facebook will lead people to engage in more serious discussions across sites and platforms. Let's all hope for this, because if Facebook's new email system is "more like IM" as they say, where people really can be on different networks , conversations might be able to bloom on the inside and outside that lofty Facebook garden wall. It may take a while to get over the wall, but let's hope for the best.
Second, I is my greater hope that somehow my three exhibits inspire more people to think deeply about large and small conversations we type, send, and read every day. I'm especially interested in how the nature of human interaction in written form continually evolves, and what is the role these platforms and systems play in that evolution. How messages route themselves and flow, how messages get shared, how they can be displayed. This is just the beginning of a new millenium for humans, but recognize that it is an enriched millenium. There are infinite ways to mine the "from," "with," and "between" messages that now circle the globe. That mine isn't just a gold mine, it is something far more precious. The mine holds all free and open human conversation, all happening in real-time. Everything all at once. Conversations of those talking, of those listening, and of those just being talked about.