Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Twitter ye not

Here's an interesting little curiosity. A couple of years ago I was asked to take part in an experiment involving Twitter. The medium was fairly new and people were just settling into the style in which we use it today.

Film maker Lara Greenway of Brave Soldier Films wondered how different first meetings were on Twitter when compared to first encounters in the real world. When you meet someone face to face that you've never met before , how do you handle the situation? Would you handle it differently if your only method of communication was via a social networking platform?

As part of a wider project, Lara set up the Twitstunt; myself and five other tweeters - all unknown to each other - were placed around a table in a pub in London. We were all given a list of Twitter names but weren't told to whom each name applied (all those strips of paper on the table). We then had to chat for an hour only using Twitter - no direct communication. This short video shows you what happened:

What was interesting - and not a little bit scary - was just how much information we all gave away. After an hour I found that I'd discussed work, my family, hobbies, interests, musical tastes ... information that, in all likelihood, I'd not have shared if I was meeting someone for the first time in the flesh. It's as if, by creating a barrier to communication in the form of Twitter, we all had to communicate more. And considering that normal human interaction is around 80% non-verbal, all we had was the verbal (albeit in written form) to work with.

The whole experience certainly opened my eyes and I've been a lot more careful ever since about what I tell people online. You won't find my address or phone numbers or photos of my loved ones nor anything else that, really, I don't actually need to share. Social media allows us all into each other's lives but, with only a few exceptions, most of you reading this blog are people I've never met and maybe never will because we are separated by geography, physical capability or other barriers.

If you want to know more about Lara's work, do visit her website or follow her on Twitter. She's @laragreenway. A smart lady who will one day be one of those names we all know.

And my apologies for that pink shirt ...


Andrew Kerr said...

That is blast from the past.I remember you doing it at the time!

Lara said...

Oh how lovely, Mr C! Do you do PR?! It's really interesting looking back on this now as it still does make one think about one's online presence. You'll be glad to know the 'full' project is still very much alive! Lx

Stevyn Colgan said...

Andy - I remember! People following me at the time just couldn't figure out what the hell I was involved in and kept jumping into the conversation. It was hilarious!

Lara - So glad it's still live. Amazingly interesting project and would love to stay involved in some way if that is possible. x