I promise this is the last thing I will blog about twitter…. today. Moreso than the back and forth about twitter being the Signpost of Doom that People Need to Get a Life, vs the It’s Just Great to Banter with People I Like, it is amazing how quickly it is moving as a techno-meme. Just watching the increased rate of contact messages, how many more tweets spill when I flip back mid-day. I am just plain fascinated to watch it explode, not caring if it folds like a limp tortilla tomorrow or if eventually those Obvious dudes buy out Google.

It’s like having some sort of social behavior laboratory right in front of you.

So some curious things I have seen twitter on by.

Yesterday, Tom Hapgood emailed me and asked for some comments about twitter on his blog, which at that time was full of your typical responses for those looking outside in:

it’s a stupid thing.

I can only assume that someone who twitters will eventually have no friends.

it’s lame. diminishing the value of interaction. i don’t want to get a text messages every time someone goes to the restroom or feels like they’re gonna be late for something.

Hummingbirds are the only things that should be allowed to twitter.

guess where they are on the curve?

twitter cycle

So besides adding my own comment to Tom’s site, I took another step – I twittered this tweet:


In less than 20 minutes, Tom had 5 new comments from the Twitterati:twitter-tom.jpg

I think this is much more effective than email. It can be a call to action!

Likewise, today, follow this thread as D’Arcy shares a new wiki technollogy,others try it out, and it makes its way into a live presentation… in a time span of six minutes!


you might chalk this up to the rabid swarming of techno geeks, but for little effort, not stuffing people with email, twitter can generate action. All it takes is a nudge, some contacts….

Lastly, there is new discovery. Via a twitter contact (Darren), I came across Claudia’s balanced summary of This Twittering Life:

Thus it creates a sense of sharing the intimacy of the blogger; lets say, the blogging context or conditions. Spying on them, but not interrupting them. Not sharing the thoughts in your brain, but rather how your neurons talk to each other to produce the post: what you are reading, what your friends are reading.

Can this create a new conversation pulse, pace or rhythm? For example, let us all write at the same time or stop to eat at the same time. Does it add a sense of togetherness in the loneliness of the blogger’s posting time?

And there is communication to think about. In Twitter you simply tell the ‘what’ and the ‘where’. Twitters are not messages or posts that require any answer. The tool does not foster it, at least. A twitter is just that, no invasive technology

So while it is easy to point the finger and dismiss it as people telling the world the last time they scratched their navel (3 hours 11 minutes ago) — it’s not the technology making it inane. The communication patterns and potential will become more obvious when creative minds put this tool to work. remember, technology by itself is of no intrinsic merit without the context and meaning we put into, around it, through it.

And woah, find something new through a technology that is not coming in RSS or other channels? Claudia’s post led me to twitterment, a search engine developed at the eBiquity Research Group, University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC). It can pull up a list of twitter activty, along with charts and graphs of hourly and daily trends, plus locating the tweets on a Google map, by keyword search– for example, a search of twittering on “wikipedia”.

But wait, there is more! You can also generate data representing comparisons of twittering between 2 keywords, for example, the activity of dogs versus cats


This data clearly documents that except for some abnormal nocturnal behavior (2-5am) and a weak effort on Wednesdays, there is much more to tweet about for dogs than cats.

Okay, the example is silly- but is the potential here for real time data, connectivity, not just intoxicating?

Like I said, the last thing today, maybe even tomorrow on twitter.

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An early 90s builder of web stuff and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person. And he is 100% into the Fediverse (or tells himself so) Tooting as @cogdog@cosocial.ca


  1. Hi Alan,

    I added a few slides to a conference presentation I am doing next week on twitter. One of the things that I mentioned was that this is also another example of another Web 2.0 shift towards Openness. I can see how much time Konrad really spends tending to his students blog conversations.

    I am also using the data I collected over the last week on TwitterViz to visualize the conversations. What’s nice is I can harness the conversations a little more by querying my social network for various terms and see how that plays out. I can see that Dean, Darren, Brian, Steve, Myself and You have been twittering about twitter mostly around noon. (hmmm) The tool needs some work but still it is nice to take query my social network.

  2. Alan,
    I wrote This Twittering Life as an outsider analysis. I had signed back in Jan, but I had not given the tool a try. I posted my analysis on my blog and the link to Twitter on Sunday evening. It’s only Wednesday morning and here I am interacting with you.
    So far so good for a fairly newbie in the edublogosphere like me.
    Thank you so much for the mention.

    Now I see why you were also twittering my post. All the best in your presentation. Please point us to any blog post about it.

    All the way from Argentina (but at a twittering distance…)

  3. I like your adoption curve graph! Here’s what I’ve noticed at PSU. Twitterers are divided into three camps:

    1. Twitter all the time.
    2. Twittered for a week or so, then stopped.
    3. Twitter sporadically – on a few days, off a few days.

    #1 fits your graph. #2 suggests an out point just before the slope on the curve increases. #3 is just strange, although I somewhat fit that. Some mornings I simply forget to fire up my Twitter page. I Twitter when it’s in my face, but when it’s not there, I don’t miss it.

  4. Quentin- TwitterVis looks cool- need to acquire more data to play with. Anothe reason to look more at Adobe Apollo.

    Dean- I agree its stupid, and I still like it. But it is easy to confuse the sillines of what people are writing, er tweeting with the fascinating phenomena of what the technology can afford (much the same as early naysayers looked at blogs, one colleague kept telling me in 2004, that they were a euphemism I wont say publicly, but involve a circle)– medium or message?? I think people shrivel up in sheer horror that one can be silly and serious in the same space, it’s not “academic” to mix? Not in my book.

    Claudia – your blog post was a real gem and a highlight! And it was something I discovered via twitter. Hola from Arizona to Argentina!

    Brett- I’ve wavered from 1 to 3, though this week has been pure #1. The curve was really just a fun prop sketched up in late night desparation of prepping that presentation.

    Tweet Tweet!

  5. Alan,
    Fascinating analysis. I’m just now getting around to reading Tipping Point. I think twitter becomes a fascinating tool for the spread of epidemics. And what will be important is recognizing the connectors…who is being read by a lot of people so their messages really spread. I’m fairly confident you are one of them.

    Like your tweet early today…I to like reading my twitter to see what people are doing. And I’m finding I use it more as a personal blog, compared to the professional blog. I’m also hoping to make twitter a serious conferencing tool. I could, also, imagine it being a great work tracking tool…esp. for people who work “in the field” a lot. –but how did this reply become about me?

    signing off–narcissistic shelley

  6. As one of the PSU tweets with Brett, I normally fall in the #3 category. I am a lurker in Twitter, but I don’t often post. In my opinion, I think that there is a personal element of not believing that what I am doing is so exciting that everyone would want to know about it! In other words, here I am just plodding along doing the same basic tasks each day, while others are out there exploring new technologies, implementing them in unique and exciting ways and then writing creative posts about it!

  7. I like the “Twitter Life Cycle” so much I posted it to our blog. BTW, my old eyes can’t read the font on this blog. Thank goodness for the “+” increase font size feature in firefox.

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