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Culture

Inmates running the Twitter asylum

The microblogging service lowers the barriers between author and reader, which for the author can be a bit uncomfortable.

I used to think I was in control of what I blog and what I Twitter. Recently I've been disabused of this notion, particularly with regard to what I Twitter. In a postmodern, Jacques Derrida sense, the reader has come to mean more than the author. Or to think that she does.

This fact was brought home to me yesterday when two of my 1,195 Twitter "followers" advised me that I was Twittering incorrectly. I had been working myself up to a blog post, and was thinking through the idea over Twitter in 140-character snippets. As a result, I posted a string of short snippets that added up to a full screen of Twitterings. A bit lengthier than I'd like, and much more than I normally post, but I wanted people to see how I think.

Now, I have yet to see a manual on proper Twitter etiquette, but given how easy it is to "un-follow" people on Twitter, it seems bizarre to me that certain readers should determine the proper way for me to Twitter, other than by unsubscribing if my strategy doesn't suit them. That, to me, seems the proper market-based response. If that 1,195 number were to drop to 500, for example, I might assume I were doing something wrong and correct the behavior.

But the data suggests the inverse:

Matt Asay's Twitter Growth

One of the commentators later suggested to me that he likes much of what I write, but was trying to offer constructive criticism in how to improve the content for him. I care about his perspective, so I'm trying to accommodate him. But I'm still not sure why readers don't vote more with their feet, rather than with their mouths.

The great (and terrible) thing about social media is, well, how social it is. Readers, especially on Twitter, aren't content to be followers. They also want to lead the content, and have no compunction about prescribing their preferred style and content. This is positive, I suppose, but after blogging for several years and Twittering for a few months, I'm finding it can be a bit uncomfortable to realize just how vocal readers can be.

More pertinently, it's very hard to take in social media's blaring wall of sound and effectively process it. Has anyone else found positive, non-cumbersome ways to interact with their Twitter or blog readerships?


Follow me on Twitter at mjasay.