I don’t have many Twitter followers, but this is a Twocation map of their location. The nature of my tweets – usually about my cartoons – makes it unlikely that their intent will ever be misinterpreted (through lack of attention). But this, according to Joe Brockmeier on Readwriteweb, is a huge problem with our unfocussed, scatter-gun approach to social media:
When a publication gets things wrong, a correction may not receive the same level of attention as an inaccurate headline or story. But when a tweet heard round the world is wrong, making a correction is next to impossible. That’s not the only problem with using a handful of social media tools as the hub of conversation and information discovery.
This is surely only a problem if a general gripe about lack of criticality in all forms of social discourse is true, and even then … I do think we have a different attitude to social media than mainstream media, stemming from two things:
- We have some sort of personal connection to the tweets/posts we’ve chosen to follow. Even if we don’t know the poster personally, we’ve been impressed with them in some other context, and because of that context, we have some idea of what weight we should put on their words.
- We understand the nature of social media. Nobody’s going to mistake a tweet for a well-reasoned article, are they?
Like all media we consume, social media is contextual. Foolish mistakes of interpretation by inexperienced users get made, but those with a bit more experience are soon there to correct the error. Like that report about a massacre in Texas. It made it onto my local TV … but it disappeared without a lot of harm done?
I guess social media rumours might truly hurt the stock market, but there’s a lost cause regardless of what happens online.
Here’s a map of my Facebook friends:
According to Brockmeier, FB does too much editing for us, determining what we see from its complex and ever-changing algorithms. I have become a bit of a fan of the way Google+ presents me with interesting content, having made a number of recommendations of people I’m interested in, and I do seem to have much more control than with its more oblique competitor.
Brockmeier urges moderation in our use of FB – it’s not going to go away, its not going to get better, we can’t ignore it, so just be careful. Don’t rely on it. Diversify. Unfortunately, these sensible words of caution come at a cost:
[remember when ...?]
Social media is such an inward looking beast – although it purports otherwise. That’s its beguiling trick. It’s a self-contained universe demanding constant feeding.