Social apps and the attention factor

by Mathew on April 20, 2008 · 11 comments

I was thinking about Twitter and the periodic outages of the past day or so, and came across MG Siegler’s post at ParisLemon (on FriendFeed, not Twitter) and started nodding my head as I was reading it. I couldn’t figure out yesterday whether Twitter was broken, or whether people were just not Twittering as much. I was at a baseball game at the Skydome in Toronto, so I wasn’t checking or posting a lot — and as MG notes, the weather was pretty nice in a lot of places (including Toronto) and it was a weekend, so I thought maybe other people had better things to do as well.

There’s nothing wrong with that, obviously. Getting away — or “off the grid,” as my hyper-connected friends like to say — is a good thing. And spending time outside with friends and family is also good. But I still felt a strange kind of disconnected feeling yesterday, when I checked Twitter and didn’t see anything but the occasional message. Where was everyone? What were they doing? I don’t want anyone to think I have a Twitter addiction — I was perfectly fine with it. But it still felt, well… weird.

I guess that’s the thing with social apps like Twitter. They connect you to a large group of people, and allow you to stay in touch with them in some minimal way (ironically, I had a long conversation with someone yesterday about the benefits of these kinds of “weak ties”). But when it isn’t working properly, you feel — out of touch. And in this case, it wasn’t by choice but a result of some external event. As ParisLemon notes, it was also hard to tell whether it was Twitter’s fault, because intermittent messages were coming through. Damn you, Twitter. More info here.

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  • http://www.blogiscore.com Justin Davey

    I feel the same…and Twitter is still acting funny! I'm not so sure it's just the weather or Passover.

  • http://InternetDuctTape.com engtech

    It's hard to remember that you're alone in a room in your underwear, no matter how many people you're talking to on the interwebs.

    It's the diet pepsi of social contact. Strangely unfulfilling, but better than dying of thirst.

  • http://www.mathewingram.com/work mathewi

    That's a great way of putting it, Engtech :-)

  • http://broadcasting-brain.com Mark Dykeman

    Mathew, was it kind of like being in a noisy bar and then suddenly it seemed like a lot of people left, or at least stopped talking?

  • http://www.mathewingram.com/work mathewi

    It was definitely like that, Mark. I had the feeling that
    conversations were going on around me about a whole pile of
    interesting things (which may not have been true, of course), but I
    couldn't hear them.

  • http://www.allaboutnortel.com Mark Evans

    You need to get off the grid more often! It's good for you.

  • http://www.mathewingram.com/work mathewi

    I kind of like the grid :-)

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  • http://www.sunspel.com Sunspel

    I also use Twitter a lot. I never thought I would get addicted to it but now, logging in everyday to communiate with people around the world is becoming or maybe an addiction. Maybe I need to re-think about twittering!

  • http://www.sunspel.com Sunspel

    I also use Twitter a lot. I never thought I would get addicted to it but now, logging in everyday to communiate with people around the world is becoming or maybe an addiction. Maybe I need to re-think about twittering!

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