It seems everyone is trying to understand and analyse twitter at the moment, so after nearly a year of twittering , here are my thoughts:
Perhaps it is a little more than coincidence that Twitter has been named after our feathered friends, as it is very close, in my mind, to the classic edge of chaos example of how birds flock.
Birds flock through following a set of unwritten, uncommunicated simple rules. Flocking birds have no manual, no procedures to follow, no dos and do nots, no bird etiquette, they just do it , and do it by instinct and in spectacular fashion.
And they all do it. (Have you ever seen one bird turn the wrong way at the wrong time to create a mangle of free-fall bird feathers – no, never).
And so it is, could, should? be with Twitter
It works at so many different levels for so many different purposes, and here is its power, it is all things to all people and brilliant for it, and we twitters like them boids, don’t need lists of dos and donts, guidance, rules or twitterquette, we just do it, we just twitter. (Maybe this is why many say they just ‘dont get it’ – there is a sense of jumping in and using twitter and see what emerges, rather than a calculated action plan)
Indeed it is the relationships between the agents (us as twitters, or the birds) and the scope for emergence are is so important in keeping twitter at the edge of chaos.
Chaos theory is often illustrated through the butterfly affect ( a butterflies wings flapping in Chile can cause storms in Europe, a concept I have called small in large out – SILO) Again Twitter demonstrates this concept incredibly well – one tweet can spread through the global twitter community probably faster than any other form of communication known. (eg news stories broken through twitter)
So is twitter really an application of complexity theory in practice, a demonstration of the ‘edge of chaos’ paradigm? I think so, and having long used the concepts of complexity theory (simple rules, agents, relationships, SILO and emergence) to allow management system processes and procedures to become so much more effective and efficient, (eg where many ‘control’ procedures can be replaced with a few simple rules) I see twitter applications having a future within management systems, just not sure exactly how yet!
But … others more learned in the complexity / chaos theory may like to comment, agree or correct me ?
Oh, and since tweeting I have, through twitter, purchased a chicken coop, won and let work contracts, helped others win work, learnt so much, made new friends and contacts, been inspired and shocked, eaten humble pie once or twice and hopefully shared something of use in return. Fellow twitters have shared births, deaths, job losses and job finds, sadness, anger and great happiness ….. Brilliant.