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Twitter as a cultural Accelerator [or – Thank you Rick Murphy!!]

February 27, 2009

The Twitter buzz is still at its peak and it is quite impossible to have a conversation about internet today without talking about it. the conversations range from sweeping enthusiasm to seriously doubting its usefulness. Some describe it as the ‘neighborhood pub’, some praise it’s power with expanding one’s network, knowledge and expertise, some doubt 140 characters to be able to build profound relationships and/or knowledge pool. In my previous Blog posts about Twitter – Travelers guide to twitter universe – I described various tools to help one find their way in Twttiterverse.

The essence of Twitter is rarely discussed, it is more the ‘why’ and ‘how’ that tends to be discussed. That’s why I was extremely excited to read a post by Rick Murphy, a semantic web philosopher and expert, about the cultural meaning of Twitter. What do these nuggets of information mean to us as a society, how does it impact information sharing and relationship building? http://phaneron.rickmurphy.org/?p=32

“And what’s really different about Twitter? The short answer is very fast replication of culture in the form of memes through a highly efficient vehicle called Tweets. Think Tweeme.”

Where a ‘meme’ is “an atomic unit of cultural information that is imitated and changed” – the DNA of our culture. Think ReTweets and @replies. So where does Tweeter fit into this? “Twitter is a meme pool with special characteristics that accelerate cultural evolution” says Rick, demonstrating how retweeting as a replicating mechanism that enables your tweet to get to thousands and thousands of people – your idea, unit of cultural information, carried away, quoted and replicated by others, what enables massive, quick, cultural change – less so the tweet about your exciting cheese sandwich lunch, more so the ideas and lightbulb moments shared with others in speed of light.

Twitter is a vehicle for cultural progression as it allows massive broadcasting and absorption of information “in a competitive environment where survival implies replication among a pool of competitors.”

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