Monday, September 14, 2009

Bored of Twitter

So, what if we get bored of Twitter?
What if the stream of interesting nuggets from people you didn't know you needed to know start to lose their shine?
To be honest you have no one to blame but yourself. Your Twitter stream is, after all, a collection of thoughts from, and interactions with, people YOU selected for their relevance.

No one is ever bored by a lack of quality. They are bored by a lack of relevance.

So, you can't blame Twitter for your boredom. You chose how bored to be.

Bored of Twitter = there's not enough really relevant stuff in my stream.

One reason is that your interests form and reform. You may have moved on.  Twitter is good at enabling adhoc self-forming groups of purpose.

It's low requirement for personal-data sharing means introduction to people you didn't know you needed to know is relatively easy. But what if your thinking has moved on but that of many people in your stream has not? Drop them?

What if their thinking is about to change, that they may say something unique and inspirational which may change the way you think or solve a key problem for you?

But this problem goes beyond retaining previously relevant connections on the off-chance they come good.

The tension is that for the evolution of ideas you need diversity but for our engagement we need relevance.

So, if we're wise, we strive to find relevant diversity. Eg I may follow a 'social media expert' (field i'm in) from Shanghai and a bookkeeper from Huntingdon (where I live).

But I probably won't follow a bookkeeper from Shanghai.

So we'll never know the moment when we could have helped each other solve a problem we share.

And unless and until everyone on Twitter can follow everyone on Twitter, and everyone is on Twitter (and we can all understand and communicate in all languages) the tension between relevance and diversity will remain.

How bored we are with Twitter depends on our personal solutions to that dilemma.

Tools which help us will shape the answer to the question: what comes after Twitter?

What comes when we can connect with anyone anywhere right now who wants to solve the same problem/serve the same purpose we do.
What is relevant, and therefore engaging is a moving feast. Discovery of one another requires open-ness (never ending diversity). But we have to remain engaged and committed, which requires ever-focusing relevance.

What seems likely is that solid state tools will not serve this. Fluidity and flexibility are key - which is why Twitter is our best stab yet.

How could we make Twitter even more able to manage the relevance/diversity tension?
Let's start with a better interface to help us judge each follower's relevance to the area we wish to engage in right now - and a set of tools to help measure that relevance and some temporary Off switches to take some less relevant folk out of your stream for short periods.
Note: it will need to be able to cope with AplusK levels of followers but let's start with 10,000.

Moon on a stick or vital next step? Your thoughts, as ever, very welcome.

The rate of change is so rapid it's difficult for one person to keep up to speed. Let's pool our thoughts, share our reactions and, who knows, even reach some shared conclusions worth arriving at?