Twitter: Social StoryTelling

Twitter is The Human Narrative in real time. And yes the Capitalisation is important. Twitter is not just a marketing tool, nor a place to get cool links to awesome videos and blog posts. It’s not even simply a place to organise a bbq or be introduced to a potential client. It’s primary purpose is…

Twitter is The Human Narrative in real time. And yes the Capitalisation is important. Twitter is not just a marketing tool, nor a place to get cool links to awesome videos and blog posts. It’s not even simply a place to organise a bbq or be introduced to a potential client. It’s primary purpose is to tell the Human Story, in 140 character paragraphs

Surprises abound on Twitter.
When @johnt tweets (updates) that they are on a train that has been involved in an accident, you don’t think “how do I market this”, or even “how do I become engaged” – you just react.

We all asked lots of questions – was everyone alright? (it was a suicide), are the police there? and so on. Remember, online you can ask the questions you can’t ask in real life; if the person doesn’t like them, they simply don’t respond. Vicarious entertainment, maybe. Human nature, definitely.

When I was in Saudi Arabia and detained at the airport, Twitterers followed the story. What is more compelling that watching an evening News item on a remote country? … well, observing it all unfold live to a TwitFriend has to be more interesting.

Human drama is sometimes played out in front of thousands with the protagonists unable to stop – and we can’t look away, like watching a car crash. Talking of carcrashes, this happened last night to @ColiWilso

Click to read it biggerer. 🙂
ColinWilson was ok – he posted a picture of a little ding, but apparently the other driver was literally an escaped mental patient. See what I mean? Human stories being told. Of course not all stories end well:

The last post of @erlene

Erlene was involved in a car crash moments after tweeting this, and passed away at the scene. One of her friends drove past and saw erlene’s car. I find her last words oddly moving: at 3:06pm on May 24th “cats do not like elephant hats on their heads”.
You can read the memorial tweets here: social networks, no matter the purpose or value systems, have rites and rituals. Remembrance and memorials are part of community behaviour.
Farewell, erlene – one of my favourite tweets of all time came from you: Michelle just broke up with me because I accidently shot my gun in the car.

Note: I have worked in social networks where a leader/elder member has *died* as a way to disengaging from addictive behaviours online, such as games and forums and chat. I don’t believe this to be the case here.

Arguments online become stories – MissMotorMouth and MarkDavidson broke up, on Twitter. Here’s the stream : in amongst the fight about domain hosting, is some really personal stuff.

Pulling these stories together is a challenge: (in futuristic voice) but we have the technology!
Twistori looks for keywords, love, hate, wish, believe on Twitter and pulls them in. Automated stories from the web. I could watch it all day, human emotion is hypnotising.

Twittilate has been writing for a while – she tells erotic stories, 140 tantalising characters at a time.

Cameron Reilly set up Twittories ages ago – I forget the link – but you sign up on a wiki (put your Twitter name down) and when it’s your turn, you have to say the next line (140 characters) in the story. You know the drill…

Collecting stories – from TED TAlks Jonathan Harris talks about the partial glimpse. He talks about WeFeelFine, which is collecting emotions from blog posts.

Oh look there’s lots more, but I wanted to draw your attention to this: if a social network is full of events and rituals, of love and arguments and death and stories, what will your customer service and community marketing manuals say, hmmm?

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  1. What a rich picture that you painted of Twitter. From someone who is grappling to get engaged with the technology that is a great account that you provided. It kind of reminds me of seeing the profiles of the Virginia Tech victims and the comments which start with concerned relatives to then a change to a place of remembrance. These emotions and actions are usually ephemeral and lost in the moment however technology is throwing up this space where they become very permanent. hmm I have gone all reflective now

  2. Wow, that was an amazing post!

    I did a presentation on Twitter to my work mates a few days ago… trying to get them to understand why twitter is so interesting, why so many people get addicted.

    If only I’d found this earlier, I would have used it. In fact, I might link to this post, if you were okay with it.

    And some touching posts… I never knew of people who died tweeting… It really demonstrates how integrated the net is with our lives… and deaths too 😉

  3. Yea go ahead and link hon, do what you like – I have CC attribution, non commercial and non derivative at the bottom of each post.
    I have to change the licence from noderivative to sharealike – non derivative is st00pid re: blogs. 🙂

  4. Thanks Laurel, a really inspiring post. You nearly convinced me to start an account! In fact, maybe I’ll go do that now. But before I do … Do you think Twitter will remain the micro-blogging (or whatever you want to call it) tool of choice for the foreseeable future, or is there something else on the horizon given the changes this week? I’m only asking because I’ve been a Twitter-phobe for 2 years (all I hear about is outages) and want to know if I should just wait until “the next best thing” arrives 😉
    (ok, yes I can hear you laughing from here)

  5. Beautiful. I have not really viewed Twitter from this perspective. It’s fascinating.

    Thank you!

  6. Technically it was an ATV accident but that’s really irrelevant. Great post 😉

    Tessa (@driveafastercar)

  7. I agree with the others above – that was a great post. 🙂

    Your comments on the use of rites and rituals is very apt. I recently came across the idea of the cargo cults that existed after WWII. The cargo cult rituals gave value and comfort to the local communities after their sense of loss – yet seemed odd and dis-connected to other external communities. I think people can mourn and also express hope in very different ways – and the new online communities allow new opportunites for such expressions.

    Again – great post – thanks 🙂

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