Saturday, 14 August 2010

Are Retweets just plain lazy? Twitter, sensemaking and adding value

Based on this video posted by the Archduke of Twitter, Stephen Fry, you’d think Twitter was a load of mindless guff posted by idiots who think we care about what they had for dinner.

But its so much more than that. It’s a huge library of knowledge, insight and information, whose value to others is constantly increased by the action of re-tweeting. Disagree? Think re-tweeting is just lazy? It actually creates value for your followers.

Sensemaking and personal knowledge management
I came across this post by Harold Jarche on Twitter which started me thinking... It applies a sensemaking approach to Twitter for personal knowledge management, or for any humans reading, keeping a handle on what you know and making sense of it.

Mostly it’s a post about how to manage interesting things you’ve found on Twitter – favorite them, review them, add to more context to them, and publish them in all their expanded glory . Jarche calls them Friday Finds

An example:

Tweet: @roundtrip – 10 ways the “world of work” will change in the next 10 years @Gartner_inc “non-routine” work = adaptive innovative

Additional information:
  • De-routinization of work
  • Work swarms
  • Weak links
  • Working with the collective
  • Work sketch-ups
  • Spontaneous work
  • Simulation & experimentation
  • Pattern sensitivity
  • Hyperconnected
  • My place

What I found interesting was the sensemaking model Jarche refers to, because they way he manages tweets, via his Friday Finds, adds value to the original tweet.

  • Filtering (separating signal from noise, based on some criteria): Some filtering (if you consider that particular tweet in relation to the chaos on Twitter) has taken place, in terms of content and in terms of the concept of “following” being a filter.
  • Validation (ensuring that information is reliable, current or supported by research): There may be some validation on an individual basis ie Jarche has validated the content of the tweet based on his personal knowledge of the person tweeting it.
  • Synthesis (describing patterns, trends or flows in large amounts of information): Tweets grouped by theme would indicate synthesis – this is a more complex and time consuming activity which Jarche hasn’t undertaken
  • Presentation (making information understandable through visualization or logical presentation): The way the tweets are presented makes them accessible and quick to understand
  • Customization (describing information in context): Customisation means that the tweets, information fragments which give little context, are given a “boost” by adding more detail.
I’d argue that synthesis is probably higher in the value creation list of this model than presentation, but that’s just an aside.

What Jarche is doing, he is doing primarily for himself, but its adding value to the basic information contained in a tweet. This is librarianship if I ever saw it but it did make me think about the concept of re-tweeting.

Consider the tweet – you read it, find it interesting, you retweet it. Referring to the model above, some sensemaking has taken place. By retweeting, by virtue of passing on a tweet you’ve filtered out something useful from amongst the millions posted and personally validated it. Congratulations - you’ve just added value to the tweet for your followers.

Nothing is new under heaven
I intended to say something clever and thought provoking about Twitter retweets, but in researching this post I find that like all my good ideas, it’s been done already. Its been done here and here and here . Obviously there’s a counter argument, based more on the number of available characters than on the concept of ownership of information, but in the interests of balance, see it here .

According to Twiterlyzer, my influence type is Spider, A Spider has “a mid-sized network” and is socially connected. Clearly I am not a Source, one who communicates original ideas (I love labels as get-out clauses ;-) So I can feel no shame in repeating what someone else has said. I’m just adding value...

1 comment:

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