Friday, January 07, 2011

Slow Day ... 7 Jan 02:32AM

Less activity on Twitter today I think. Or at least fewer incoming emails. Also restrained from following, and didn't travel too many paths in search of things to follow. Anycase appeared to reduced activity enough to avoid hitting the hourly limit.
A strange concept however that twitter has. Prime reason for opening a Twitter, Facebook and LinkIN accounts is because IEAust has an account and IIE (Aust) is considering opening such accounts. So that a main purpose of twitter is to receive timely information from such organisations. That is to be a follower, not build an audience of followers. But twitter sets limits where by number following is proportional to numbers who follow. So if do not attract followers, then you are stifled in following more organisations.
Sure  cannot follow all the tweets organisations send if have many organisations, nor sensible to follow tweets all day long. I am on end of year break, and have been following for several hours. But even so most time is taken up reading the links, not reading the tweets. Tweets can be scrolled and kind of speed read. Each different pass may notice something different and take a closer look. Some tweets are repeated. Some people following better to check their home page or what ever its called. This is because of timing, and their tweets, may be a long way down at the bottom of the stack of tweets, and difficult to access in a long timeline stack: several pages to scroll with slow updating. But not a quick and convenient means of checking people follow, because with following many people, the following list takes too long to generate if it is able to generate at all.
Also being upto date or ontime doesn't really matter because retweets make topics current again. So topics could be considered as flowing like a wave, in and out of currency (imagine sine wave perhaps: topic a particle riding on the curve). Movie stars and similar have a million or so followers, a given a potential global fan base, and therefore tweets flowing in 24 hours per day, every instant of time. Then it is unlikely that they can respond personally to each and every fan. But then do fans want a personal response, or engage in conversation. With traditional postal system, may eventually get a signed photo or reply to letter. But then again giving such free to millions of fans would have to be expensive. More efficient to deal with needs of fan clubs, rather than individual fans. In main fans probably just want their stars to know they are there, say liked the show, song, movie, what ever. If they get personal reply, then one of the lucky free. But in the main accept a general thankyou or other response to all the fans.
Organisations are similar, most followers not their for dialogue, but one way flow of information from the organisation. But otherwise wish for a more immediate and convenient means of interacting with the organisation than been available in the past. The IEAust as tried several internal attempts at engaging with its members, even provided every member with email address at one point, I think that lasted for less than a year. The problem is didn't really engage with the membership, and still doesn't really. It is too one way communication. Where as technical society needs to be an open forum: where any one can pose a question and provide answers and start a discussion. This is what the structural engineers association international email list server provides (SEAint), and thus produces a community of people who can help one another. The IEAust hasn't really setup to engage its membership, but apparently the "Make It So" campaign last year succefully engaged with the community at large. Though I hazard a guess that will be the first and last time it does. I don't beleive people will keep contributing ideas to see only one developed. Further the word engineer is related to igenious, so why don't they have their own ideas. And put them to the vote. Maybe then can foster further involvement, they have a collection of ideas already, each year they can develop one and place existing back in play for voting and allow others to be added. This will demonstrate that problem is not really technical, but one of politics: what the people want from the available but otherwise limited resources. Time is a limited resource, relative to an individuals lifespan. Of course can always figure out how to tackle more projects with the limited resources.
Times takes us back to twitter. Assume spend an hour on twitter, and takes about 10 minutes to read an article linked to, then can only read 6 articles. Assuming 1 tweet per minute then getting 60 per hour, therefore only reading 10% of those at time checking.  but tweets coming in 24 hours / day , 24*60 = 1440 tweets/day, and so only reading 0.42% of all tweets following by your account. Computer speeds typically measured in nanoseconds, so could be receiving a message every nanosecond, but assumed deliberate dely to prevent automated bombardment of site, then assume messages cannot be faster than 1 every second, 60*60*24=86,400 tweets/day. Assume individual can only write one tweet per minute, but even then need some thinking between tweets. So assume 5 minutes per tweet, and tweet for 8 hours per day, that is assuming a fulltime job for some purpose: then can tweet 86 tweets per day. Thus the total inflow would be from 900 individuals tweeting all day. An organisation could have 3 shifts, which would boost the number of tweets sent per day, and decrease the number of entities followed: 288 tweets/day, dropping down to 300 entities. Most users are not going to be tweeting all day everyday, therefore there is potential to monitor more than 900 users {NB this ignores twitters limits}. But still have problem with the window of opportunity, when does the user send their tweets? The information is a particle on a wave, and want that wave to flow through own window of opportunity. The information sent by organisations is thus likely be some kind of repetitive loop, most likely sent at random time intervals than regular. A regular time interval may always be out of phase with potential readers, an irregular time interval may eventually get in phase, at least catch their attention in the time line: which I didn't measure the length of. For could say the tweet has to be discovered with in the timeline without forcing a delay and refresh of the next screenful of tweets.
Where was I heading? How many users can practically follow? Not exact mathematical answer, it depends on the characteritics of the individual follower and the tweeter, and relationship between. Small talk is not the same as information, as indicated an article could take 5 minutes to read, it could take half an hour or even and hour. Video especially slows things down, comes in slow stammering: and may have to replay again to get it more clearly. I think the twitter limit was following 2000 users, then propotional limts start to apply to the following and followers. However 2000 seems like a lot of people or as really discussing enterprises. Not sure I know names of 2000 technical enterprises, industry organisations, government bodies and businesses. Though I suppose if started to write them all down it would start to add up, but would I want to follow them? The chances are not? Or if do follow probably only for the duration of monitoring a current issue with a business enterprise, I don't see individuals following businesses all the time. Most businesses do not have a constantly varying product, you buy once and may be every 5 years, possibly 30 years buy a replacement. Business needs are not the same as other kinds of organisations. People monitor useful organisations but not really suppliers and/or makers of physical goods. Organisations may monitor such businesses. People may monitor service providers, services which have regular demand.
The other issue is whilst follow a user, don't necessarily want to read everything they tweet. An enterprise may be tweeting about stuff not really interested in, or if interested just find annying. The IEAust newletters in the printed journal are often simpy bleeting about the status and prestege of engineers. Who cares, actually contribute something to society, then may imrpove status. Don't complain engineers did this and that. Engineers may have done a lot, the fact is that you the individual complaining haven't, and you don;t deserve status for the work of others. Real status comes from being an individual not from membership of a group. That is a topic want to isolate, from main stream of technically useful discussion. That is where LinkIN groups are potentially better, than twitter. Twitters benefit is where the timeline of information is important. Its not about timely news, news is typically researched and old by the time it reaches the public. And its not about a conversation as such. It is about timing an opportunity.
Without the internet then most organisations are dormant lifeless piles of bricks and mortar. Anything they have to say is buried in newpapers, and specialist journals. Engineers Australia publishes the journal of structural engineering once a year the IStructE publishes The Structural Engineer once a fortnight. There is little scope for discussing something in a journal once a year. Fornigthly much debate on practical day to day structural engineering can take place. On the SEAint listserver discussion is daily, and hourly.
The issue is bringing like people from a far together. And mood and priority determines the users choices at any given point in time. So they may not check of the users they are following in any given day, but they will make random checks throughout the year. But main checks will be on those organisations they interact with and which really fuel their interests. Such interaction can change the individuals behaviour and interests, that is a minor interest can come to the fore and become a dominant interest, for no other reason than previously they had no means of interacting with people in that area of interest and therefore nothing to distract them or encourage them into the area of interest.
Yikes! Ignoring the time again. Not to mention I have got distracted from real tasks meant to be pursuing during my break from office, if not from actual work. Though I seem to have forgetten what they were. Definitely got to start looking at business accounts on week end: dull stuff. Sure there was something I was going to program, or finish programming and get operational. Got lots of part written programs: work for me, but not anyone else, that is no user interface. Just programs to get a job done. Just pick them up and modify to get aother job done
Lost internet connection!

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