Governing the Twitterfolk: part 2

I’ve had some responses to yesterday’s post diving into the Twitter Village / Mayor discussion, some as comments on the post, some on Twitter and a reply from Shel Israel on his blog.

Whilst I hope you enjoyed the rant, there are a couple of points I would like to make that I think are important outside of this discussion:

Perception of scale – it is hard to ascertain the effects of your actions on the web. On Twitter, we get stats about how many people follow us, so we can see how many people will get our tweets; we can’t see how many people will pick up on a response to us, sent from one of our followers. In general, the scale of our “Twitter Village” is a hazy concept, especially now there are circa 700k people in the global Twittersphere. This applies to all of the channels we use to publish out to the web. You never know how influential you really are. (That also applies to people of the “old media world” who assume that they because they used to be a big deal, this means that anyone on the web gives a shit.)

Why it looks like people care more about a Twitter Mayor than Chinese officials beating a blogger to death – Shel made the comment that his Twitter Mayor post caused the greatest amount of activity from his blog’s readers since he once posted asking which brand of washer/dryer to get. There is an explanation for this: people get passionate about what they understand. And people understand Twitter a lot better than they understand Chinese or Saudi politics. Think of a typical meeting at a big company (I’m ripping off Semler again here) – a discussion about whether to approve a proposal to spend £10m might take an hour; take a discussion about whether Dress-Down Friday should be introduced and you might be going for two, maybe three hours. With a £10m funding proposal, it is likely that the details of the project are not understood by most people making the decision, and not one of them can imagine what £10m actually looks like. Conversely, everyone understands what is involved in a Dress-Down Friday, can feel the consequences and has a different opinion they will defend to the death.

Ps. Laura (aka Pistachio) pointed out that I was somewhat inconsistent in my pro-democracy approach by suggesting that Shel’s proposal be “beaten down” asap. Laura, you’re right, my mistake. Much like with Twitter itself, everyone should be free to say what they want.

Pps. Regarding that last sentence… er, isn’t that supposed to be the way the real world works?

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One Comment

  1. Chris R
    Posted February 4, 2008 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

    I think you’ll find you are ripping of C Northcote Parkinson :-)(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Avoid_Parkinson's_Bicycle_Shed_Effect)