passion, dedication and clarity of vision

June 3, 2008

At the end of the workday, today, I had an extra few minutes… so decided to pop over to the Twitter status blog, just to see what the folks at Twitter had to say today. I have been, in turn, annoyed and intrigued by the complaining and impatience within Twitter, about Twitter, and I find myself continually returning to the question: So, um, how come all the fuss?

Well, my venture into status took me over to the Twitter Blog. When I read down a post or so I learned that I guess, the folks at TechCrunch, posted a series of questions on their blog… and the folks at Twitter responded in theirs. In skimming through the Twitter response, my attention was drawn by one question in particular: ‘How long will it be until you are able to undo the damage [you] caused to Twitter and the community?’ I have seen this sentiment in various tweets as well, as people get frustrated, even angry at times, and vent. What I find so interesting is that even when negative, whether it is out of frustration, challenge or complaint… people talk about how important Twitter is to them. The fact we are personally taking offense at the functionality and usability of a service makes a strong statement about the power of that service. And as I thought about the value people are assigning this tool, I remembered that just today I also saw the opposite sentiment, stated with passion by Pistachio: “@twitter @ev @biz @jack i love Twitter so much it hurts. it majorly, majorly, majorly helped me out just now. thank you.” The message may differ, but the energy and intensity remains powerfully the same.

As I sort through all of this, what I love is, when the Twitter-folk refer to their work, they reflect passion, dedication, and ultimately a clarity of vision on what I think really matters:

“We’re all focused on designing something that persists and becomes the background.”

It is not the tool. It is not even the functionality. It is the illumination of the conversation that breaks barriers, brings down boundaries and allows us, if we are willing, to hear and maybe see just a little bit of others’ thoughts, others’ beliefs, others’ worlds. And that is what I find truly powerful. I learn so much from those I follow, with whom I feel I share common values. I gain insight, resources and ideas from them. But I find I learn equally from those I follow who live in different worlds. Think differently. Experience differently and ultimately navigate the world differently than me. Where else do I get instant, updated, real-time access to so many diverse points of view?

It is so easy to get wrapped up in expectation. And it is uncomfortable to have high expectations and see once more that life happens, and things are not always as they appear to be. The classy, clear, forward-thinking, responsive- yet not defensive approach the Twitter team has taken in the face of significant whining is impressive. And in reading through the comments…another gem from TechCrunch: “Twitter continues to be annoyingly and constructively responsive to criticism.” We love to hate it. We hate to love it. If only we all were so transparent and constructive about our own growth and efforts to mediate our own personal development.

We have become so accustomed to on-demand, consumer-driven, reactionary company policies. The food we eat: genetically modified, extracted, fabricated into food product, ‘enriched’ with added nutrients. Often the nutrients that were bred or processed out in the first place. The food service experience is driven by a quest for identicality: we want our food and drink not influenced by regional difference, but packaged and mediated to be exactly the same, where ever we are. We see a similar effort in our language policy as we spend unbelievable dollars providing instruction in English only to native speakers of languages other than English. And the military spends additional remarkable sums, instructing adult English speakers to speak those very languages we extinguished out of our multilingual, multicultural population when they were young. Complex issues oversimplified in argument. Parallels? I see them.

We are in the midst of a paradigm shift with a focus on community, communication, and real-time interaction. And that is just what the Twitter folks are offering to us from behind the scenes during their time of trial. I plan to stay focused on the communication, community and real-time interaction that best supports my work, and stay out of the way to let them do theirs.


4 Responses to “passion, dedication and clarity of vision”

  1. I agree. Give it a chance to sort itself out. Even broken it is a great tool.

  2. Pablo DiCiacco Says:

    You are a great writer, you should post more often… or maybe you do somewhere else?

  3. Pablo DiCiacco Says:

    Based upon todays total twits, the average American makes 1 /3000 th of a a twit per day. How would you interpret that?

  4. jennaream Says:

    Pablo, Thank you for your kind comments. I do not write elsewhere at the moment, I teach. What I find so fascinating and important about Twitter is not how many, but *who* participates. I think we are at a point in time in which many do not yet know about or recognize the power of this tool. Much like email in the 80’s- before it reached its tipping point and became an assumed, common way to communicate it was thought silly, a waste of time, difficult or just not convenient. Twitter (and services like this) will have it’s own path to it’s own place in history as a social communication tool, but at the moment, I find that it is not access to the thoughts of all, it is access to the thoughts of many who self-select to participate in the conversation that appeals to me.

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