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There’s always something to howl about

Fragments Shored Against Our Ruin

Clive Thompson just wrote a brilliant article for the New York Times magazine, describing the cumulative impact of following someone across Twitter, Facebook and other social media. I read it with interest because Redfin has been thinking about embedding our agents’ micro-blogs into Redfin’s site, so that clients can get updates (e.g. touring properties in Capitol Hill) and timely, local advice (e.g. seeing a lot of price reductions in Noe Valley).

But the New York Times article was interesting for personal reasons too, because it speaks to how anti-social people in social software can be.

I’ve already struggled to describe the phenomenon of feeling loved, but by no one in particular, of not-being alone when you are totally alone, of intimacy with everyone (several friends have told their inquisitive mothers to “just read my blog” and I always wonder how that makes the moms feel).

Clive’s most interesting argument is that the cumulative effect of a Twitter feed is larger than we realize. “Merely looking at a stranger’s Twitter or Facebook feed isn’t interesting,” Clive writes, “because it seems like blather. Follow it for a day, though, and it begins to feel like a short story; follow it for a month, and it’s a novel.” 

I’m not sure that I completely agree. A friend of mine once paid $9.95 a month to get a daily voice-mail from Jose Canseco when Canseco was a slugger for the A’s; every day, he mumbled something about working out and washing his hair (nothing about Madonna). It was somehow even more disappointing than we thought it could be.

But Clive’s observation does begin to answer the question people always ask about why anyone bothers to update Twitter three times a day: it’s the only way most of us can write a novel, piece by piece. And it’s the only way most people will read one either, 160 characters at a time. I think his point was that the most evanescent thing in the world, a twitter, might be the most permanent thing we have.

Sometimes it seems like the Internet is an elaborate record of our contradictions, our multitudes, which we can blast off into space once the sun has burned out, to tell the universe what we were like.

So I started Twittering yesterday. And asking myself if this is the best way for Redfin to talk to our clients. How are folks in the Bloodhound community using Twitter, if at all?

(Photocredit: Vivoandando on Flickr)

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