Twitter is my Village

by Laura Fitton on January 10, 2008

Village?
For me, connecting on Twitter with someone I’ve just met in person is inviting them to live in “my village.” Follow-up won’t be limited to the “nice meeting you” email cul-de-sac. On Twitter, we’ll cross paths incidentally and without pressure. I may bump into them “around town” for maybe a word or two at the “coffee shop” or “post office.” Over time we may discover common interests (aka social objects) in each others’ tweets, and connect more deeply as neighbors or friends.

For a contrived, weird and techy way to communicate, Twitter’s “passive conversation” fosters very natural, gradual relationship-building. I explained about the village to Dan Bricklin, who immediately connected it to the chapter on “taming” and the Fox in The Little Prince.

The Village Mind
New to Twitter, it makes no sense. Post 140 characters into the ether? Stare at the public timeline’s chaos washing over me? Why the h…?

How does Twitter shift from idiotic to amazing? It takes a village – a critical mass of interesting people – to read and write to. When my brain started to connect with the brains (and hearts) of others, it got really, REALLY cool for me. You may be looking for like minds, or you may want to be totally shaken up by new ideas. Both work. One day I suddenly realized this was, for me, tribe-finding. For arguably the first time in my life I didn’t feel as weird and different.

Everyone connects to a different array of tweets and tweeters, so there aren’t discrete villages per se. But, the degrees of separation and connection create layers around each individual that hint at a very sketchy (and Twitter-specific) “social map.” (Often highly removed from who you actually know).

The Village Heart
Right in “my” own village (yours too?) @susanreynolds‘ breast cancer fight and the Frozen Pea Fund bubbled up as a lovely grassroots social movement to rally around and raise support for one of our own. (If you missed it, the story is in today’s Washington Post.) With Twitter though, the “village” feel of intimacy is profoundly global. Her story’s been blogged hundreds of times including Scoble, Loic, TechCrunch and even a link on the BBC home page.

This week in a nearby village, a car crash stole a well-loved young mother. Ashley D. Spencer left behind baby Lucy (2 months old), toddler “Sproglet” and her loving husband. She’d shared her pregnancy on Twitter as @ashpreggo, switched to @AshDMama after baby Lucy’s birth and is the only person I know of who permanently added PEA to her Twitter ID in honor of @susanreynolds. She died, tragically, and FAR too young, as @AshPEAMama. Ashley once sent me this hearty laughter on a very dark day. In her village, her humor and caring touched many lives deeply.

And so our eccentric archipelago of Twitter villages is mourning, and struggling to try to help Ashley’s family. @Mosqueda set up this memorial fund to help with funeral expenses and childcare.

If you’re not on Twitter yet, I don’t blame you if all this seems unrealistic or hyped. But lives and communities are changing, profoundly, over here in this funky little Twecosystem the guys from Obvious built. You might want take a look sometime. I’ll probably see you in the coffee shop.

{ 61 comments… read them below or add one }

Jack Hodgson January 14, 2008 at 9:24 am

Nice post Laura. Thanks.

David Bailey January 14, 2008 at 2:48 pm

I find twitter a great place just to hang out. I am still a bit shy and retiring but i will i am sure get used to the 140 characters. It IS a village without a doubt. Thanks for getting me to contribute here :)

Krish January 22, 2008 at 6:12 pm

Laura,

Came to know about this article through your discussion on Pulver.tv. I have a take on Twitter as a modern day Agora. Please check it out here http://www.krishworld.com/blog/social-platform/twitter-as-the-modern-day-agora/

bonzopoe January 24, 2008 at 5:13 pm

I liked this post so much that i even wrote a post about it in my blog. I would feel very honored if could read it.

http://www.poertas.com/2008/01/twitter-como-un-barrio.html

It

Muppet February 15, 2008 at 11:29 am

this is such an awsome post..i came to it through glokay.vox.com who posted this post crediting you..i must say that this is the reason i joined twitter..don’t have other social networks than my vox and my twitter..freaking awesome!!

Inpi April 13, 2008 at 7:40 pm

Thank you for everything you’ve said so beautifully and so true! We feel proud of our Village.

bonzopoe May 8, 2008 at 10:34 am

This post made me realize that twitter is more than it seems, and now that i´ve got some visitors because of it i think it´s time to add my twitter to this great post.

If you want to practice your spanish and help me with my english your are very welcome

http://twitter.com/bonzopoe

Mike Schinkel August 9, 2008 at 10:52 pm

You have captured the essence of my “aha” moment for Twitter. Thanks for putting it eloquently so I didn’t have to. :)

Devakishor November 22, 2008 at 6:51 am

Started using Twitter a few months back and I’m loving it. At first it was kinda weird, but once you get the hang of it, its awesome. Random conversations with strangers was never this fun.

Happy to be a part of your village.

http://twitter.com/devakishor

Tweeple, would love to connect with you all and expand my village.

Brilliant Post.

Myke Dillon December 31, 2008 at 3:58 pm

Wow. That was perfect.

http://tinyurl.com/badcreditcanadianloanslender November 13, 2013 at 3:20 pm

We sttumbled over here different web adress andd thought I should check things out.
I like what I see so now i aam following you. Look forward to looking into your web page yet again.

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