Sunday

Are we connected by the message or the word count?

Lately, when I'm clicking through links on Twitter or clicking through Twitter search results - when I'm looking at Twitter users and I'm trying to decide who to follow - an important thing for me is volume. The volume isn't the first thing that draws me to a user, obviously, but it is a strong secondary qualifier. I will search a word in the Twitter search feature: an author's name maybe, or a very specific term from a subject of interest, or a place name, or a word for a mood or...damn...just about anything (usually not one of the top current trend terms (I guess I'm outta touch))...or I'll cruise the Twitter Public Timeline, remember that thing? Or I'll follow links through people I follow...and I'll land on a user's page and I'll read read read the first few tweets on the person's page to get the gist of what they say...and then a huge thing that shapes my decision is volume. I skip to the end of their first page to get an indication of how many tweets they have on the first page of their profile. Like if you looked at my profile, at the bottom, you'd see messages from today back to November 17th fill my Page 1. I look for that same measure in others. That's just as shallow and ridiculous as can be, right? And it's hypocritical too...anybody who's ever met me knows that I babble and babble and babble and have no right to impose a word count on anybody.

But isn't this a good compatibility test? I mean: what exactly do you want out of Twitter? I want to use it on my phone. I want to hear from as many people as possible during the day while I'm slaving away, but I don't want to have my phone blowing up so badly it's unusable. I have passed on following some really interesting people because of their volume. And I only let certain people flood my Twitter stream. (You know who you are, and I LOVE you and there's a reason I follow you like a disciple.)

I don't know...maybe I'm going for Dunbar's Number.

Obviously my opinions could differ from somebody - like night and day - even if they tweet the same amount as I do. Of course. But the 'connection' is about more than just agreeing, right? It's about a successful communication process, the right conditions for a successful communication process to proceed. I am a firm believer in the power of Twitter as a means of meaningful communication.

People who have the same volume as I do, maybe they have a similar expectation for Twitter.

People who think like me (or: at the pace that I think), who refine their thoughts and shape a message and utter an utterance with the same frequency with which I do it - they might use Twitter in the same way that I do. Pacing! Synchronicity! Maybe these are the most important facilitating elements of a 'connection.' By 'connection,' what the hell do I mean? I mean somebody posts messages to Twitter regularly which 1) I can relate to, 2) I can learn from, 3) make me laugh, 4) challenge me, 5) enlighten me, 6) scold me when I'm screwin up....and I hope to do the same back to the person - - a connection - -

I don't look to Twitter for ALL OF MY INFORMATION AND TRUTH. There are some messages that are too heavy or too long for Twitter. (Guess what: I read books too. And lots of newspaper and magazine articles and blogs and forums and...wow...just about anything...cereal boxes, government websites, association websites, think tank websites, academics, pdf reports downloaded...and then there's all the stuff I listen to and view....) But for what I am looking for out of Twitter, what I am hoping for out of Twitter, maybe my volume thing is a good idea. Maybe I am getting the most out of Twitter. (Or maybe I'm missing so much it's a freakin tragedy.) What I miss out on - on Twitter - I hope I pick it up elsewhere - - or I just don't get it I guess. Whatever. In this life you gotta go with what you got. Use the info at hand to make a decision, to make a statement, to produce your art or write.

I just know that the high volume user squelches a low volume user on Twitter - because of how it's designed. When Twitter Lists came out, I started a list of low volume users...so that I could be sure to hear from them when I'm logged on...when I'm not using Twitter via phone but instead via computer. (Maybe I should have a high volume list too. A fast lane and a slow lane...but then I would be forced to click around a buncha lists...I don't know...maybe I'll do that)

Maybe I should just use Twitter to answer the question that Twitter itself poses to me, the question at the top of your Twitter page right above where you type stuff asks: What's happening? ...didn't it use to ask: What are you doing?

What would you do with a found photo?

Last night in front of an ATM machine I found a little photo. It must have fallen out of somebody's wallet. It was old and faded. The guys in the photo had big hair and those frilly old 70s tuxedos. This photo had been in somebody's possession a very long time. It had a pin hole in the top, so it must have been pinned somewhere a while, but most recently, it was in somebody's wallet...but now, here it was on the sidewalk in front of an ATM. I didn't know what to do. I wanted to keep it. It was such a great photo. It was like found art...or maybe my 'love' of it was only like the fondness one feels for a baseball card or a wacky action figure or something. I put back on the sidewalk exactly where I picked it up from. Maybe the person would come back for it. At the time, that was the best decision I could make. Maybe I should have kept it, celebrated it: posted it here maybe, maybe made some copies...Maybe I should have tried to slip it through the bank doors (and risked setting off the bank alarm and bringing about circumstances and sirens and questions it would be hard to address). Maybe it will be blown away by the leaf blower Monday morning. Maybe the next user of the ATM would face the same quandary. Maybe I should have picked up the photo and come back to the bank and given it to a teller so they could give it back if somebody came for it - I didn't think of that. That's what I should have done. Or maybe I could have mailed it to the bank. Would the banker really have taken the time to deal with this? What if the person was five minutes away, on his or her way back to pick it up...and then they were back on their way to New York or where ever...My gut feeling was to not remove it from where I found it. This seemed like the best option according to my instincts and quick decision making faculties (which were impaired). I'm thinking it and rethinking it now. I knew it was important. But I treated it differently from....an ATM card I found one day at that very ATM machine. That ATM card: I mailed it to the bank. But an ATM card really stick out, laying on a sidewalk...that one was obvious. That little picture, I barely noticed it. It was face down, it looked just like a blank piece of paper until I picked it up. I really had this strong inclination to put it right back where I found it. Maybe the person would have given up on it right then and there if they came back and saw it was gone. Maybe they wouldn't realize it is gone until...who knows when. What would you have done?