Twitter Curve

by Kieran Healy on March 13, 2007

Becks at Unfogged is justly skeptical of Twitter yet fears its institutionalization may be inevitable. Kathy Sierra’s Asymptotic Twitter Curve is a sharp summary of the problem:

Twitter Curve

One question is whether the curve describes some kind of cognitive limit or is a rather more cohort-specific representation of the dangers of adopting technologies developed an increasing number of years after your own core work patterns are established.

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Crooked Timber » » Fear of a Twittering Planet
03.19.07 at 4:16 am

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1

John Emerson 03.13.07 at 10:03 pm

You left out The Singularity.

2

Prashant 03.13.07 at 11:28 pm

Looks like every technology adopted after 1992 is bound to leave your brain trashed.

3

Kenny Easwaran 03.13.07 at 11:57 pm

That’s surprising to me that it puts cell phones before e-mail and the web in terms of widespread adoption.

4

c. 03.14.07 at 12:12 am

Kenny — looks like the y-axis is year of widespread adoption. That’s why cell phones are first.

5

J Edgar 03.14.07 at 12:53 am

That graph is too close to the colors of the “Head First” branding. Hope I don’t get a seizure, or my head doesn’t suddenly become huge and I get google-eyed.

6

grackel 03.14.07 at 1:32 am

One might move back to previous technologies which began the process of turning brains to soup – could the crystal radio be the first? Growing up in the 50’s and early sixties, I recall that I delivered papers early on Sunday mornings, wearing a diminutive AM radio with an ear plug. Instant and total distraction, of which all the items in this chart are only (arguably) variations or refinements on a certain level, a primary denial that a human should ideally and in practice become comfortable living in the actual world as he encounters it, for instance. From the advent of the portable radio on, the effect has been to deny that one is in any particular place and to posit counter to that, that one can and rightly should submit oneself to a regimen of soporific amusement through the stimulus of various media which act mainly to distract one from one’s actual condition. It just gets easier and easier.

7

Ken C. 03.14.07 at 6:12 am

At first I thought that the complete opposite of twitter obsession would be the state pursued in the practice of formal meditation: being in this place, and this time, observing the Eternal Present. But after all, what is more in the “now” than observing the Eternal Present of everyone else? Perhaps this graph should curve around, in a “Circle of Not-Doing”: from not-doing, without Twitter, to doing a little, with some Twitter, and finally to not-doing, in a state of “Twitter Enlightenment”.

8

Anon 03.14.07 at 6:14 am

Wow, this is probably what Sealab 2021 was referring to when Black Debbie asked, “Can anyone tell me what the Internet was and how it almost detroyed mankind in the year 2007?”

9

eszter 03.14.07 at 4:55 pm

Gosh, I’ve been meaning to post about Twitter, but I’m just too overwhelmed with various deadlines to write up my thoughts. … No, just can’t do it right now. Will hope to get back to this one of these days.

10

Anarch 03.14.07 at 6:17 pm

I have to say that, at least with the up-and-coming generations, the curve massively underestimates the time-between-interruptions of cell-phones. The issue isn’t how often someone calls you, it’s how often you check the phone… and IME that can be as high as once per minute. Like a bloody nervous tic, it was.

11

aa 03.14.07 at 7:09 pm

Not to worry, self-helf here.

12

Kenny Easwaran 03.15.07 at 1:02 am

c. – were cell phones widely adopted long before e-mail and the web? That’s what I was questioning, since I thought email and the web were widespread in the ’90s, while cell phones weren’t until around 2002.

13

dave heasman 03.15.07 at 11:59 am

“I thought email and the web were widespread in the ‘90s, while cell phones weren’t until around 2002.”

In England certainly mobile phones came first in terms of mass uptake. About 1997/8 I’d say, when the internet mainly meant AOL & Compuserve here.

14

stuart 03.18.07 at 8:48 pm

Wow, this is probably what Sealab 2021 was referring to when Black Debbie asked, “Can anyone tell me what the Internet was and how it almost detroyed mankind in the year 2007?”

And there was me thinking that quote was related to the ready access to free porn causing a catastrophic decline in birthrates.

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