Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Twitter: One Way to Construct a Global Brain Trust

Yesterday, Marc Schaefer posted a blog titled “Why Do I need 10,000 followers?” Then he posted that same question to the Twitter Innovators group on LinkedIn. People are commenting like crazy.

The consensus so far is that a lot of tweeters welcome followers, but aren’t scrambling for them. Biologist, naturalist guide, and writer Roger Harris [aka Jungleman] put it perfectly for me, when he said:

Twitter is about quality, not quantity. I have been on Twitter since mid-2007, having Tweeted 2000+ times. And I only have a pitiful 600 and something followers. How lame. Why don't I just give up?

 But if you look at people who are following me, they are influencers, early adopters, social media experts, and other people I want to connect with. And that's the point of Twitter. Notice that I only follow about half the number of those that follow me. I have blogged about Dunbar's Limit-- how many people we can realistically interact with. So the best way to manage users is to share what you consider interesting and useful, enjoy the serendipity of what your community chooses to share with you, and keep an eye on the truly important things in life: love, trust, honesty, loyalty, courage.

I think Harris is describing the same Tweeple that Chris Brogan alludes to as “pirates” in his blog "You Still Need A Frame." The “Mastermind Group” touches on the same ideal "meeting of the minds." Managed thoughtfully, Twitter also promises a great way for each of us to construct our own global brain trust. Ya tink?

p.s. More info on Dunbar’s Number from the WSJ’s/NumbersGuy here and from Chris Brogan here.

- scrubbed by Marketing Brillo



Nancy, Thanks so much for the shout-out (my name is actually Mark Schaefer.

This seems to have struck an emotional chord with a lot of people. I even received a phone call today from a "follower" in Philadelphia I have never met because he wanted to talk about the issue.

There is a disconnect between the "real" world of friends and the virtual world that people are still trying to reconcile. As you mention with the reference to the Dunbar number, psychologically we can only handle so many friends. But we have dozens or hundreds of new people knocking on the door. Mentally, we have to put it into a different framework.

One person likened it to be a movie star. You can not possibly "connect" with all your fans but you can still respect and appreciate them. That's a big leap for me, but probably a wise perspective.

Thanks again for the commentary!


Unknown said...

Hey, Mark... Thanks so much for the thoughtful comment here. I'm correcting the spelling of your name right now. People looking for you on the net should be able to connect to every brilliant thing you say. :-)