Dec 08

Twitter is about “Who”, not “How many”

Stowe Boyd over at /Message writes a nice post questioning some Twitter metrics and analysis being thrown around.

I have suggested for a longtime that to ‘get’ Twitter you need to follow 100 people at least, for several weeks. This cursory recitation of stats suggests that there are thousands of users out there happily communing with a handful of friends. I don’t buy it. I bet most of those accounts with small use, small links, and small time online represent a fringe of uninvolved people who aren’t getting much value from the service, if they login in at all. The sweet spot is far north of the center of some bell curve, I believe.

However, I don’t agree that Twitter users need over 100 following/followers for it to be compelling. Just as other communication tools are used in different ways, so I think it is with Twitter. I know that many people are following between 20-40 people and find the service useful. The question is not “how many”, but “who”. Who are the people you are following? Are they your best friends, or some folks you worked with 2 years ago. Different answers to this latter question result in different user scenarios.

Originally posted as a comment by PaulAdams on /Message using Disqus.

Dec 08

Stating the obvious

Sometimes all I do in work is state the obvious. I synthesise data, turn it into a story and the result is stating the obvious.

But this is what is necessary. People tend to ignore the obvious. It’s too obvious. If it is obvious, how could it be compelling? But sometimes ignoring the obvious means ignoring the simple thing that people need.

Dec 08

Offline communities

Every evening you will see taxis lined up at the end of Chelsea Bridge in London. It is not a taxi rank, the drivers are visiting a van selling coffee, tea and burgers. The question is whether they are there for the food and drink, or to participate in a micro-community. I think the latter, that they are there for the conversation, the banter, the human connection.

Taxi driver community

Likewise, you can observe trainspotters every morning in Clapham Junction, London. Are they here to watch trains? Or to interact with their fellow trainspotters?

trainspotters - whats more important, the trains or the community of people?

What can we learn about building micro-communities online from observing these groups offline?

Dec 08

Lightweight transfer of information

Recently, I left this rental car back to Enterprise and reported some axle vibration. The attendant wrote the details on the windscreen with a temporary marker. No heavyweight computer system or detailed clipboard form.

Dynamic instructions

At some point someone (the mechanic) should update the mechanical history of the car in Enterprise’s database. But it’s not necessary at the customer facing point of the service.

Dec 08

Social Obligation

One thing I’ve seen bubbling up in various research studies is the notion of “Social Obligation”. Here’s an example:

“I received a friend request on Facebook from a guy called Tom. He’s a friend of a good friend of mine but I don’t really know him. To be honest, I’m not sure I like him, and I don’t really want to connect with him on Facebook. But I see this guy about once every couple of months, out drinking, and I feel obliged to accept his request due to the social awkwardness that is inevitible otherwise next time we meet.”