On Being There and Doing Enough (Essay 19)


 

Today is Saturday and I am off work which is a very good thing. I spent the morning doing not much besides eating, drinking, watching movies and when I did do something it was that I went shopping. I cannot say I have had a productive day nor that it has been a waste. I am happy to have the day off and not have much to do. I was reading through my twitter this morning as I do daily and one advantage of using my favorite twitter program “UberTwitter” is since its layout is well-designed and I notice everything 100% and read everything 100%. I find this an important factor because I would never read as such if I used twitter on my laptop or netbook nor did I do this when I only used the Blackberry’s standard twitter application. One single application has features (including design, colors and sizes of things) that make me read through everything. I find this important since I would hardly care what goes on in my twitter if I had not been using UberTwitter. One exciting thing that happened today was I noticed a familiar logo and a short tweet. I am very sure I have not missed many of earlier tweets because I read through almost everything. Guild of Sommelier is a trade association which operates as an organized body of professionals who are or aspire to function as wine stewards and at similar positions and are not shy of facing bona fide standards for education which can be thorough and difficult. In short, people are not attracted to Guild of Sommelier just because they like wine. I somehow was delighted to see a tweet from the Guild of Sommelier and I could have replied to their training question with what I remember of Punt e Mas (spelling?) but instead had to reply by complementing them for being around in the twitter universe. That was this morning and I have been thinking about it on the side since then. Why was I excited to see their tweet? What difference does it make to have them around floating in the middle of all the tweets that go around? What is going on anyway?

Twitter is a social media platform that has become very famous for several reasons. Most people subscribe to popular definitions because culturally they are trained to repeat and follow what the media, the famous people and everyone else tells them what anything is. Public is trained to expect and adopt some flawed definition from sources they are trained to receive them from. Twitter is basically no more than a micro-blog and succeeds and fails where micro-blogs do. I know many people who have tried and found tweeting to be very difficult and not natural to them while others thrive. The biggest misconception about twitter is the conversation platform. Statistics show very clearly only a tiny percent of users participate in conversation while the giant bulk of twitter activity is simply broadcast. A twitter account holder issues tweets and others follow to read. That is the practical function of twitter: Broadcasting. The other ignored fact about twitter is the platform by nature relates the account holder to many more strangers than people one is associated with. Twitter is a place to socialize with strangers compared to Facebook where one socializes with known others and because of this information can be shared with anyone. I am not sure how much socializing goes on except between specific account holders who not only know each other well or relate to each other very well but have enough levels of activity to be around and socialize. What really goes on twitter is broadcasting. Billions and billions of tweets go out without stop and numbers show these tweets are without a doubt one way broadcasts rather than extensive socializing.

What is the consequence of so many broadcast stations going off at the same time? An individual can connect to many many sources of tweets as resources for what goes on in one’s corner of universe. What is known in this space has a great deal to do with the people who send the tweets and the quality of the content. I try not to follow too many people (106 presently) so I can read the tweets consistently. I also have personal and professional rules for whom I follow. Many of the people I follow tweet sporadically while some live on twitter. I have diligently read thousands and thousands of tweets by folks I do not know (except through our twitter connection) simply because the quality of the tweets were good. I have also censored (cut off, unfollow) many because what was tweeted simply made no sense or was not worth following. Some very active twitter persons have too much fun being on twitter and use twitter as a chatroom. Their only problem is getting others to play with them. One last group, I could care less for is anyone who turns off color and goes in that direction. My twitter list is basically a group of people I follow in the wireless field and another group I follow in the wine field. The few others who flow in between have always been there or I have a good personal reason to follow. Another interesting thing about twitter is some tweet a lot and all the time while others tweet never or sporadically. There is no middle range of tweets amongst those I follow. Some have very high number of tweets and others have very few.

Many of the sources that I follow share specific topics very closely and in real time. Those who follow their tweets have some level of interest in what is said and also follow the same topics to some extent. A big problem with a medium such a micro-blog is too much independence. Micro-blog differs slightly from a blog in that anybody can issue posts without any controls. Since too many people are actively making blogs and issuing whatever they please, the success of a blog is measured by numbers. There are so many systems in place to measure and compare whatever can be counted in the blog universe. Twitter has done very well likewise because one can see many numbers as part of the platform and identify oneself with these numbers. One consequence of this erroneous system that is tied to ego is anyone can act and behave (if not declare oneself) as an authority on something by simply making posts and tweeting them if enough people follow. Twitter provides a captive audience of followers and the general public for each person holding an account to issue posts at. A person can develop an identity of some type here and live here in one’s own twitter universe (or dimension). I have no opinion of what right or wrong may relate to the identity created within twitter universe but can tell you since the first day I started using twitter I have suffered the fact that a twitter account holder can name an account whatever and claim to be whatever followed by issuing whatever tweets one wishes of any dubious content and others have to take the time to find out the real value of such broadcaster. Authentic authorities (those whom relate to your topics of interest) are difficult to find on twitter because unless one knows the person to be an authority through other sources, the twitter system provides nothing but flawed and if not deceptive information on identity and qualifications. The other problem that is probably more harmful is since twitter has been around long enough, almost everyone who is doing something (including the qualified of any field) have a twitter account but this does not mean any activity or enough activity is registered on that broadcast. This has been my biggest problem. I have found twitter to be a good medium for very limited applications but it does serve several purposes within those limitations. If only I can find the “right” people to follow and if only they posted “enough” tweets to be a person of value in terms of contributing to others’ knowledge, I will be able to get plenty of real-time information and valuable insights by simply glancing and scrolling through my tweets when I have a few minutes to spare or have nothing else to do. I have found that finding the “right” people is very difficult but I have found MANY. My next problem has been that only a small percentage of the “right” people issue enough tweets to be sharing with the field and those interested in the topics. They do their contributions elsewhere while having an identity by a twitter profile. That is why I was so excited when I noticed a tweet from Guild of Sommeliers.

I read through so many tweets simply because a good percentage of my time is fragmented by activities and is available only in chunks of a few minutes here and there. This time is very efficiently and effectively utilized by having access to good resources on twitter. A very large number of the very short tweets can be read in only a few minutes and if they have any content of value, those few minutes are extremely well-spent professionally. Ideally, a person interested in a topic should follow a good number of resources (people, organizations, etc.) who post tweets of value and this person should be on top of many many things by the few minutes of reading one does here and there. It is possible for one of so many to also provide some tweets of value in return when possible. This carefully created universe of specific users creates an opportunity for people who work in fields such as technology and wine to be able to keep up with the multitudes of little things that occur and shape the industry without any hindrance. Guild of Sommeliers made my day by posting one simple question to get the ball rolling on a field question but also turned from being one of those few sources that have authority, credibility and value to one that shares enough to benefit others whom are at the mercy of any John or Jane Doe who claims to be an authority of the field and happens to tweet enough to keep others interested.

Personally, I have never liked twitter and have suggested more than once that one of the bigger technology companies should make a micro-blog platform similar to twitter but be limited to professionals sharing thus saving us from twitter and its many rivers of none-sense tweets. That has not happened yet but what has happened is since many of those who are more qualified in various fields are finally present on twitter, the next step can be accomplished by expecting them to share enough (even if in short tweets occasionally) so the rest of the field can keep up with their progresses. Since the first step is practically complete, the second step can be accomplished and what Guild of Sommelier did today was just that. They are sharing. They and others of qualification will change the field (even if in a hypothetical micro-blog universe or dimension) by simply being around and sharing. This is a great lesson for others to keep the field going in all arenas. Each arena has its own dynamics. Micro-blogs have many limitations as do other mediums but within those limits, it is possible to contribute decisively. Since almost everyone is on twitter, sharing is the stage we are at and hopefully others will learn from Guild of Sommeliers. I am curious how many of them would automatically contribute actively if a good software match (as UberTwitter in my case) could be made for what device they use? I would say all.

(P.S. This piece was written within the guidelines for my writing for my blogs which involves certain third parties input. I have cleaned up this piece slightly and created paragraphs for ease of reading. This is more in consideration of the people mentioned who would expect a piece involving them at least be easily readable. In general, I am expected to write a first draft without correction (which can turn into an extremely long piece with no breaks and very difficult to read at times) in support of the thesis that raw thought (given that it is valid and of value) is of significant value by itself even if not touched up (changed) for presentation and especially if not changed at all from its raw format. This piece deviates from these guidelines by being slightly cleaned up. I promise it won’t happen again.)

*This post belongs to this week’s edition of Wine by Cush Magazine blog and published early in World of Cush also.

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