People first, everything else second

You’ve changed, Twitter.

A while ago, you were just about what I was doing.  Heck, you still ask the question everytime I login.   Your interface has changed a little bit, and gotten a little more AJAX-y.  You changed your e-mail notifications.

You added Ashton, and Oprah, and hell, even an astronaut.  You got someone to a million followers, helped to started fried grilled chicken riots, gave Motrin a big headache, taught Domino’s the brand damaging potential of social media, and then let them redeem themselves.  You allowed people to voice their opinions about #amazonfail, and then just a few weeks later, lust after the Kindle DX live.

You were a HUGE part of our Social Media for Social Change event in New York City, but also Twestival, Tweetluck, Crawfish for Cancer, One Day Without Shoes, and Stamp Out Hunger.

You helped the jobless and job weary at LaidOffCamp’s in LA and NY, at Pink Slip parties nationwide, and helped bring people together in numerous BarCamps, PR for Startups, and Digital Dumbo.  You’ve attempted to save TV shows.   You let people opine about “geekdom”.

You’ve given me an amazing list of friends and confidants (that’s just a REALLY small subset) from around the world.  You’ve given me the chance to get up to speak here and here, and inspired me to teach this and gave me an amazing group of guest speakers to speak here.

Your founders shared thoughts and goodwill with the people of Iraq.    You added “Sign In with Twitter” to allow people to login to other websites.

So what’s worrying me then?

It’s the simple fact, that underneath all of this, the underpinning of this, is people.   Nevermind, the celebrity stuff, and the brand / PR stuff, and even the goodwill stuff,  and how exactly Twitter has changed (I’d argue for the better of course).   I worry that ordinary people are getting forgotten in the groundswell.  Twitter’s great because it’s new and it’s buzzy and it’s cool.  But the real magic behind Twitter has existed for a very long time.

People.  The value they offer.  The connections they make.   No gimmicks.   No schemes.  Just conversation.

The “rest of the world” is just now starting to understand the ability to connections that people make online, and have been making for a long time.    As technology adapts, communication adapts.  People adapt.  It’s our shared responsibility to remember the value of these connections in a platform agnostic way.

We call this “social media” now. But “social media” has existed for a very long time.   These connections have lived through BBSes, AOL, GEnie, CompuServe, Prodigy, MSN, Email, IRC, MOOs/MUDs, listserv, discussion boards, cellphones, video dating services, the telephone, morse code, telegraphs, letters.   The medium changes, but people and their need to connect remain constant.

And as some point, as we all probably would wager, Twitter will be replaced by something else.   But people, will never change.  So never forget that.  So practice.  Harness the power of making connections.  On Twitter, via email, through conversation.   Say “Hi” to someone you’d like to learn more about.  You’ll be continuing a long tradition.  And you’ll make a few new friends too.


4 Responses to “People first, everything else second”

  1. Rob Blatt May 11, 2009 at 9:57 pm #

    hippie!

    I think that Twitter started as social media, but Biz might have hit it ion the head when he called it social information (while on Oprah). The next network will make the dissemination of information even easier (somehow). It’s how Twitter remained so huge when all the other networks crumbled around her.

  2. Meg May 12, 2009 at 5:15 pm #

    Well, you are one of my people. So it makes sense I found you on the Twitter.

    And you KNOW how I feel about celebutweets.

    Pouring one out for the real folks. :D

  3. Alma May 12, 2009 at 5:31 pm #

    I’m one of the people who hasn’t been in love with the changing Twitter atmosphere. I got on the bandwagon before it was trendy–before people did things like followfriday (which I think is incredibly spammy and a lot like MySpazz’s top friends debacle). I routinely find myself mocking the newbies because I can see them from a mile away. And I realize that this does not help me connect with people–but I find that those people are usually not in it for the connection. They’re in it because it’s the next thing they can exploit. My biggest annoyance, personally, are those who try to use it in a way to make them larger than who they actually are. It’s less about conversation and more about ego. Where we would, in the past, pick up the phone or send an email, we now have people who read our tweets to “keep in touch” across platforms. And, for me, it’s just another way to disconnect from people…and why I’m private now and have often grappled with whether or not I’d like to continue engaging.

    It reminds me a lot of the demise of MySpazz…and, yes, I realize it’s still there. But it’s definitely a shell of its former self. I remember a time when I found genuine community there–when I was able to meet new people and share myself. But that quickly became spoiled with the politicking and the gossip and the general BS of anonymity. And, now, you have FB–a site I’ve long hated–but I stay because my real friends–the living and breathing ones who I’ve embraced and known for so long–are often there. Still, I find that I am timid there…I don’t say what I most want to say for fear that so-and-so will mention it at work or rat me out to so-and-so. And I never get to know new people there.

    I miss the old days of Twitter–when it was possibly the only online venue where people still acted as people–and not the personas they created. It makes me terribly sad to say that I doubt I will stick with it for more than a few more months.

  4. Christmas Jenkins May 13, 2009 at 3:07 pm #

    Great post, Matt!

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