There is something about Twitter…

There is something about Twitter that is making me think.

It is to do with re-tweeting links that I think may be valuable to those who follow me.

What happens if the original link I tweet is “suspect’ in some way and I don’t find out until after a conversation has developed amongst a few my own followers.

In the most recent case of this happening I had actually read the original blog-posting, the Tweet about it came from a trusted site, I (and thousands of others) follow and I was moved by the content.

I will expand on the actual sites a little later but I am wondering about the mental-filters I apply, when someone I trust, Tweets about “whatever”.

Do I trust the Tweeter or do I fully read the link and any subsequent conversation that develops around it especially if it is to a blog posting?

Critically, do the people who follow me, trust me to have activated that type of filtering?

Are there some discussions that require more care…Are there always, as Mary Loftus asked


So some details:

The tweet was from Mashable and this is the link in question (since updated by Mashable). It is entitled “I am Adam Lanza’s Mother” and is essentially about mental health issues raised by the shootings in Connecticut. I re-tweeted it as follows


Pamela O’ Brien and I developed a short conversation around the Tweet.

Then I checked my interactions the next morning and found this


It set me  wondering – which was the most important conversation – the one around the stability or otherwise of the author of the original blog posting or the insights that Pamela O’ Brien and I gained from it?

I purposely returned to Benklers’ Wealth of Networks (2006) for some insight.

iLaw 2011
Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Berkman Center for Internet & Society

He writes

“It was much more likely that, given the freedom to design our own communications environment flexibly and to tailor it to our own individual needs dynamically over time, we would create a system that lets us strengthen the ties that are most important to us“. ( p 271 my emphasis).

Twitter (depending on how it is used) can be about strengthening ties, particularity in the  communities one is active in. In my case #edchatie.

There is something about Twitter that is making us think more profoundly about content, context and communication and that can only be good. There is a lot more to said about this, but for now, my train of thought is out there.

Any further insights?
(Top) Photo Source: The Milwaukee SEO


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  4. Mary Loftus

    Yes, Donal – intriguing questions! Thank you for creating the space here to think about them. When we tweet, is there sometimes a tension between building ties and doing the real, hard work of learning? Between groupthink in an echochamber and double-loop learning? Or are these two symbiotic? Do the ties between us keep us honest and push us into real learning? I had read the original blog-post by Liza Long, and like you, it moved me. Such a frightening and sad story about a mother’s struggles with her son; she so easily identified with the family of the man/boy who doled out such suffering in Newtown. What kind of hell must that be?

    Then I saw the interaction between you and Pam. Initally, the tweet about the woman’s mental state caused me to question my own interpretation of her story – and I tweeted to you and Pam that, I too, had taken her version of the story at face value. You had both prompted me to critically assess – and I did so. We were strengthening ties and encouraging each other to think critically.

    But a few minutes later – I realised that I had just made an even more grievous error of judgement in taking *that* tweet at face value. Who had diagnosed the woman’s mental state? Were they qualified to make judgement? Where was the evidence?

    I was also ashamed that I had let my previous sympathies for this woman be so quickly diluted by this surface claim about her mental state. I feel strongly about the stigma we ascribe to mental health issues, and I believe we have to change that about our society. Yet, here I was taking an unfounded claim about that woman, buying into the stereotypes of mental illness and undermining her voice. That’s when I posted the ‘more assumptions to unpack tweet’.

    On further reflection and after reading your post, it strikes me that this is what real learning is: going into that vulnerable space, exposing our core beliefs and values and allowing the gap between them and our behaviour to be seen. It’s also about staying open to the possibility that some aspects of our beliefs and values may no longer be valid and need to be recast and redefined. Is this what Argyris calls double-loop learning? And does Twitter help or hinder the process?

    Argyris, C. (1991). Teaching smart people how to learn. Harvard business review, 69(3). Retrieved 18 Dec 2012 from