What makes some of us spend an inordinate amount of time checking and re-checking Twitter updates, composing tweets, mounting searches for hashtagged acronyms or keywords, or exploring long lists of @-symbol preceded usernames? Why do we carefully watch our follower to followee ratio and look disdainfully upon those who do not follow us back (might even consider to remove them swiftly.) Why do we proudly acknowledge if one of our brainy tweets got RT’d or better yet, retweeted multiple times by multiple followers? What motivates us? Motivation is associated with some kind of reward. This reward could be monetary but for the average tweep that is not it. Is it somehow connected to our ego? Hm, very possible.
Recognition, even mere acknowledgement of our existence in the twittverse, social standing as validated by @Replies and retweets motivate us to keep micro-blogging. But there must be s.th. else. There must be another value we feel we get out of this high investment of time. The answer might be information or even knowledge. Knowledge that others possess, explicitly and tacitly. Knowledge that we now have access to via our tweet feed, the search functionality, our followers’ followers and the tweeps that they follow.
A giant repository of unstructured data, information, and knowledge coded in 140-character long bursts of self important wisdom. Wisdom speckled with links providing free-fall elevator shafts into the black hole of more of the same, not seldomly the tweeter’s own musings on whatever he or she feels qualified to talk about. But hold it – there is more to this than the mere display of exhibitionistic ego manifestation coupled with voyeuristic exploitation of others’ coveted follower lists.
I truly believe in the immense value of tappable, filterable, searchable, minable, collective knowledge. The wisdom of the crowd in palpable chunks and never before available proximity and immediacy offering itself to me in all of its glory. Who am I to deny? Well, I am not! I take this offering with open arms and worry not about the potentiality of time wasted.
Personally, I (@Konstanze) connect with ppl, follow promising links, find specific information about an upcoming conference in a distant city, raid s.o.’s followers list, dispense droplets of my life, pour pinches of my quirks, reveal small doses of me, pose questions in the hope to get at least one answer, and I look for information I simply cannot find elsewhere. The result? Unpredictably satisfying. But, more than anything right now, this incredible phenomenon offers itself to me for rhetorical study.
What is it for you? Why do you tweet?