If the Twitterverse isn’t fed from outside, it is just an echo chamber #pcthe

The question of whether you can rely on Twitter to filter your reading is problematic. Yes following 8,000 people (or however many) will probably serve to satisfy most information needs. I am sure that by some number (10? 100? 1000?) a Twitter follower will be deep into a long tail of duplication. The other 40,000,000 people who tweet just aren’t relevant to them. The number of sources may be large, but it is finite. My reading list is not in any sense unique or even, compared to serious bloggers (@Downes springs to mind) or Twits really wide. My feed reader (BlogBridge http://www.blogbridge.com/ ) is currently consuming 47 feeds, none particularly odd-ball, which together syndicate about 800 articles/day. I scan most of these, probably read the slug from about a quarter and click through to maybe 20 or 30 articles. I am no serious newshound. I am adding about 2 or 3 feeds a week: feeds I find from the ones I follow already, feeds I find from following my Twitterverse and feeds from things I hear about in other conversations, conferences, reading student essays, reviewing articles, subscribing to email lists, etc. Broadly and with some overlap my feeds are Project-related, Ed Tech-related, Tech-related, Ed Policy-related, Policy & Politics-related, Environmental activism-related, Global Justice-related. Most are from sources and people not known personally to me. Some are blogs of my RL friends. Some of my RL friends are blogospheric authorities. Some are just folk who are read by me, their kids and cats. Even within my little list of feeds there is a lot of echo. Maybe the whole world is just an echo chamber. Maybe we do only listen to what we want to listen to and then repeat it. Maybe I am deluded to think that if I find stuff out outside of Twitter (which has probably been brought into Twitter somewhere by someone before me) and bring it in that I have something of more value than if I only followed up items from people I follow on Twitter (a paltry 159 people) and retweet or bookmark my interests. For me the value of Twitter is the community, not just the information. Twitter is an important professional tool, but it is also a social tool. It is an evening stroll, my fag break, a pub, my sounding board. It helps me to get a sense of the relevance of some of my activity outside Twitter. Even if that activity may be pursued by someone else inside Twitter I value it differently. A quick scan of the people I follow suggests that by and large they are people like me. They have a couple of hundred followers and follow about double the number that follow them. They follow a few key professional celebrities. But, and here is the value for me, they all give the impression of thinking for themselves about things that matter to me and they widen my horizons. They show me a world beyond their own Twittersphere. They show me the world is not just the Old Dog and Duck. The best thing about Twitter is that it gets me out of Twitter, not that it makes it possible for me to stay in.

Posted via email from George’s posterous

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