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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A social scientist's view of how twitter has changed

Guess what podcast I was listening to this morning? If you guessed Dr. Mike Sevilla's "Family Medicine Rocks," you'd be right. And there were a couple of reasons I was focusing on it.

  1. The title - "Has Twitter Changed?" - was intriguing. Since I think that Twitter is awesome, if it HAS changed, it must be for the worse, right? 
  2. Dr. Sevilla's guest on episode 300 was Meredith Gould - someone whom I've admired for a long time based on her amazing work (though I've never met her). And it was definitely a worthwhile listen - for a few more reasons (which I hope will convince YOU to listen to it TOO). 
First, I learned some things about Meredith that I didn't know - such as:

  • She's been involved in digital health since the early-to-mid 90s (her high school must have had a good technology program!)
  • Her passion (and the subject of her upcoming book) is on the role of social media in the church ... which also happens to be a passion of mine (see the hopefully-soon-to-be-not-dormant Finding Approval blog)
  • She's a sociologist by trade - and has an amazing perspective on the social science behind what we know as "social media"
  • Her middle name is "Harangue."
Which is pretty cool in and of itself. But as an avid twitter user, I found what she had to say quite profound ... to paraphrase:
Twitter has changed from being primarily about engagement to being primarily about content - and content is a "kissing cousin" of spam. 
In other words, it's much less of a tool for connecting than it is for broadcasting. When Meredith and I met in the early days of Dana Lewis #hcsm chats, it was almost ALL about connecting ... in fact, between 2008 and today I'd say that a significant chunk of my friends - not to mention my business opportunities - have arisen from connections originating from Twitter.

That's not to say that the change is bad - or that it's complete. Neither is true ... twitter is an amazing vehicle for sharing (and filtering) content through your social networks.  And it's also still possible to connect with people using it.  But you definitely have to work at it a bit more than you once did.  In any case, please do give the podcast a listen ... it's likely that you're going to have multiple a-ha moments.



And while you're at it, be sure to keep up with Family Medicine Rocks:
The Blog
The Podcast
The Facebook Page
Mike Sevilla, MD on Twitter

2 comments:

  1. What a gift to find this link in my Twitter stream. Turns out we belong to a Mutual Admiration Society because I've been a long-time admirer of you and hope we do indeed get to meet IRL at some point.

    So glad you appreciate my sociological perspective. As I mentioned during the podcast, we social scientists huddle together and chat back channel about how we wish everyone would at least try to look through our lens some of the time.

    There's more I could comment upon but I can't sign off without mentioning how delighted I am to know that social media for church and faith is also a passion of yours. Relative to using social media, far too many of the mainline institutional churches are where the healthcare industry was back when #hcsm got started. Vewy scawy.

    Let's continue this convo on Twitter!

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  2. Thanks again for writing about the podcast. Very much appreciated. I'm glad you're enjoying the program!

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