Jeremiah’s Instant Meme – J-list Trumps the Z-list for Speed

Memes are great, messy, chaotic fun. They lead you to places, websites and even videos that you would NEVER discover in a million hours of web surfing. But they do take a little time. Well, they do when I participate in a meme … I start by reading through the list of participants and discovering something about their blog. If there is a post that catches my attention, I will leave a comment or two. Occasionally, I find a blog that fascinates me, and I will spend ages clicking through, burning my elbow to new levels of RSI, caught in the excitement of new discovery. Then, after a discovery phase, I will come back to my own blog, find a picture on Flickr and write a post that introduces the meme. I normally thank the tagger who prompted me to participate, and then hit publish. Over the next few days or even weeks, I notice some links trickling in. A few comments saying "thanks for linking" will filter through … and then quiet. Back to normal. Earlier today, I was commenting on this post by David Armano. He was talking about the way that Twitter seems to be exploding, and I was wondering whether this was the case — or whether Twitter was just facilitating a whole range of cross-connections among and across specialist communities that had not yet been realized by blogging. Then, almost in answer, Jeremiah Owyang single-handedly kick-started an avalanche of Twitter connections. In a matter of hours, Jeremiah had amassed over 300 comments and simultaneously shared his network of Twitter followers. Where the Z-list took weeks (and even months) to spread across the Internet, the J-list took only a matter of hours. In the time since then, I have followed and been followed by many new folks — some that I have heard of, some that are new, and some others that remain mysterious. But speed is not everything. In fact, just as it can hasten adoption of a new product, it can also rapidly cause its decline. Will a multiplicity of new ties strengthen the Twitter network or will it accelerate its decline? My first thought was yes, this could be a problem … but, now, remembering the strength that comes from WEAK ties, it could be the opposite. Hmmm. Would love your thoughts.

Update: Jeremiah reflects on a day’s work completed in a moment; Stephen Collins talk tsunamis

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8 thoughts on “Jeremiah’s Instant Meme – J-list Trumps the Z-list for Speed

  1. I don’t feel comfortable following too many people. It means more noise in the room and more time scanning for familiar faces. I’m only at 25 or so now; can probably handle around 100 but no more.

  2. Gavin,
    I guess I’m the anomaly at Twitter: I only want to follow those who I find compelling and interesting and don’t care about the numbers. That’s also how I approach blogging. It is about the right readers, not the masses. As for memes, they seem to me to distort the value of links, as memes raise the authority of all bloggers taking part, no matter the value of the blogs being linked to.
    On the positive side: Both Twitter and blogging are fun, and memes can add to that fun as can following lots of twitterers.
    It’s not black and white, right or wrong. It’s personal choice, thank goodness.

  3. Mario … I read somewhere recently that people can really only handle about 100 connections in a social network. After that, the quality of relationship deteriorates.
    Lewis … Twitter is interesting. I haven’t really made up my mind yet. I try to make sure I have a sense of someone before deciding to “follow” them. But sometimes the random acceptance can introduce you to new things which is part of the chaotic aspect that appeals to me.

  4. Hey there Gavin. Enjoy your blog.
    Upsurge or decline? Or split?
    The beginning of the end of public twitter? Perhaps the beginning of more “private” accounts?
    Will the vanguard of Twitter follow all? Will our brains turn to mush? Or will we choose more discrete cybersquad worldviews?
    Does our Twitter cybersquad mirror our social disposition?
    Or does it depend on how (often) you engage and interact?

  5. Hmm… Gavin, I have not yet figured out how to “Twitter.” I note everyone seems to be doing it so will have to push my dendrites more than just a bit! From what you say it might be best to wait and see if it prospers…

  6. Gavin, thanks for the link.
    The issue of following too many people is a real one, and I deal with it the following way:
    – receive SMS tweets from a very select few, probably <20, who are real friends or colleagues
    - read all tweets from around 50-70 people whose opinion and activities matter to me
    - scan all other tweets across the day for potentially interesting links or conversations and follow those as they happen
    So, while I follow over 250 people, I *can* keep track.

  7. Jazz … Stephen has a great way of managing the stream.
    Robyn … Looking forward to seeing you tweeting!
    Stephen … I like your thinking on this. It’s like running an internal influencer scan in your head.

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