Twitter Takes a Baby Step Away from Narcissism

Social networks run on narcissism.  To tweet or blog regularly requires someone to believe their thoughts or musings merit broadcasting.  And yes, I realize that statement damns me as well.  Sometimes the truth hurts…

Picture 5Last Thursday, Twitter made a simple change to their system that was so subtle, it was easily-missed.  After years of headlining their entry box with the lead-in question “What are you doing?” they changed it to the two-character saving “What’s happening?”  Co-founder Biz Stone (is there any more ironically-named new media personality than Twitter’s ‘Biz’?) explained this change by saying “The fundamentally open model of Twitter created a new kind of information network and it has long outgrown the concept of personal status updates.”

Well, yes and no there Biz.  I mean certainly, Twitter provides a remarkably-helpful outlet for citizen journalism during world-rocking events like the Iranian elections, but in the largely prosaic daily lives of most Twitter users, police state tactics and international news stories happen somewhere else.  The chances that our updates will indeed update others about events larger than say, our last airline meal, are exceedingly slim.  It can function as an ‘information network’ but the bulk of the messages remains personal status-centric.

But that reality aside, their intent is laudable and right.  The interactive web encourages conversation and feedback on an unprecedented scale.  People may use Web 2.0 technology to declare their love for Taylor Lautner or cry for the head of Charlie Weis, but even subtly steering the conversation towards more higher-minded aims is an act of admirable stewardship.

Or at least, good party hosting.

By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79