What the heck? Twitter group chats are…

twitter group conversationI participated in something on twitter the other night. I am not sure exactly what to call it – “twitter group conversation” ? It was based around the hash #leadershipchat. In my tweetdeck, I set up a search for that hash and watched the tweets fly.

I’ve been sorting through my experience for the last 24 hours and have realized a few things that twitter group conversations are and are not. And also realized why they are important, but flawed.

Here’s what is amazing about a twitter group conversation and why they work:

  1. They are open, anyone can join.  It’s like a bunch of people dialoging on the street and people teleport in and join.
  2. They are always viral in nature.  Anyone who tweets inside it lets everyone who is following them know they are participating.
  3. It feels like an instant community of friends.  That is a powerful driver – creating an ad hoc community just feels good.
  4. Someone VIP might show up. And you might be heard by that person.  Also a powerful driver.
  5. It’s like a fire-hose of information.  It would be great for a group news feed update.

But there are real flaws with having an actual conversation in this forum:

  1. It’s open, anyone can join.  Privacy is out – this is a public forum.
  2. It’s very hard to have a substantive conversation in 140 characters.  It’s more like conversation “lite”. Depth is almost impossible – and see 3 below.
  3. The rapidity and fragmentation of the conversation makes it nearly impossible to follow with anything other than a total reaction mindset.

So why are twitter group conversations to enticing?

Between the public speaking nature of it, knowing anyone could be hearing you (and maybe someone important to you), the instant community and immediate sharing of information is super powerful and exciting.

But how could it be improved?

  1. Allow for limited participation – only invited participants. Anyone can listen in.
  2. Allow for a host to focus the conversation
  3. Slow the rate of dialog or allow a moderator to handle it

Now, doing those would also limit the power of the session, but it would provide another channel of discussion.  I am not sure – should there be a way to limit the interaction in Twitter, or is that the antithesis of the platform?

Posted on March 31, 2011 in Technology

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