Reflection: Infotopia and Twitter

20 07 2009

Throughout Infotopia, I consistently leaned toward Sunstein’s pessimistic purview of group deliberation as it applies to Twitter. Especially regarding real-time events — like when the plane landed in the Hudson River or at the start of the Iran elections — inaccuracies appear on Twitter and people amplify them through their “echo chambers” of followers. This  doesn’t lend to Twitter being a source of entirely credible information or a reliable infotopia. Of course, over time the community corrects itself through deliberation and sourcing mainstream news sources, but that real-time information exchange is where Twitter has an advantage over other means of news outlets.

When the news is wrong Twitter has an unprecedented means of self-correction through the massive scale of deliberation — only limited by the number of people who want to participate. Conversations can be fairly organized, or organized enough through hashtags. Barriers to productive deliberation — social influences — are minimal on Twitter for mass-scale conversations, such as national elections, because it’s simply impossible to know the status or expertise of everyone in the conversations. However, niche conversations like local elections or PR in Washington State can suffer from the same social influences as any deliberation format because those who would be a part of those micro conversations would likely know enough about each other to determine and be influenced by status and/or expertise.

My opinion of Twitter as an infotopia remains pessimistic because of the likelihood and perpetuation of inaccuracies and the short attention span people have  on Twitter — diminishing the impact of the evolved, accurate information. As proven by the many guest speakers we’ve had in class, from Monica Guzman to Elliot Pesut, Twitter has value as a real-time source of information, not as a source for archived or long-term conversations. Given this context, where Twitter theoretically can collectively gain from the crowd, the audience for that corrected information is a minority while the majority has moved on to the next conversation.




One response

21 07 2009
Week 5 : Positioning Twitter As Communication Tool «

[…] Readings: Corey, Filiz, Jon, Paolo […]

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