Can anyone really hear the conversation in cyberspace?

April 1, 2009 by  
Filed under Digital Space

Ever since Alexander Graham Bell sommoned his assistant by yelling “Mr. Watson, come here — I want to see you” over the first prototype of a telephone, people have been using technology to have conversations.

First there were telephones that need the help of operators to make a connection, then we had direct dial telephones, then mobile telephones and now we can have conversations via an internet connection – referred to as voice over Internet Protocol (IP).  But conversations no longer have to be voice-to-voice.  In many instances we are removing the voice and focusing on the words via social networking applications such as Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, FriendFeed and the like.

But is it really a conversation without the voice?  Is there really connection if you have 300 or 400 “friends”?

Let’s first step into the real world for a moment and visit the cocktail party that Chris was talking about to get a sense of how the Twitter conversation is growing ……

You walk through the door at the party and there you see a group of long time friends that you grew up with.  Of course they are the first people you make a beeline for …. you’re comfortable with them, you have shared experiences and you can even talk shorthand with each other.  Standing with these friends are a couple of new faces – new partners, a cousin, a neigbour – fairly soon you get to know them as well.

As you head for the food table you recognise a former work colleague who introduces you to their new boss and invites you to join the group that is chatting out the back, which, by the way, contains even more former work colleagues.

Throughout the night you make your way naturally around the party, talking to old friends and meeting new ones.  Before you know it you’ve spoken to at least 100 people (yes this IS a large cocktail party).  There were people talking about work, people talking about issues, some people engaging in small talk and others just gossiping. And when it comes to frequency of contact, some of the people you spoke with, you will talk with again tomorrow and some you may not connect with for a month or a year (or ever again).

Twitter is much the same as this cocktail party…

The Twitter Bird

The Twitter Bird

  • you’ve got to be in the space where the conversation is happening in order to join
  • you don’t know everyone straight away so hang with the people you know and then start following some of the people they are talking to
  • if you don’t like the conversation find another one that is a better fit for you
  • the conversation is happening whether you are there or not
  • join the conversation whenever you happen to be there
  • remember that the conversation is public so don’t share information or ideas that you don’t want others to know about
  • if you’ve got something private to say send a direct message or pick up the phone if you know them
  • be interested in others
  • be interesting, share information, links, and ideas that might be useful

If you’re interested in continuing your online conversation and are not yet a member of Twitter here is all you need to do.

  1. Go to and join
  2. To help make it easier to follow the conversation go to Twirl and download the desktop application
  3. Start following some people that you know and join the conversation

Many of the contributors to The Calm Space can also be found on Twitter –

Karen Wallace – @karenwallace

Chris Owen – @Chris_pinkapple

Angela Esnouf – @creatingorder

Marjorie Lim – @Marj_SlimInk

Amy Palko – @amypalko

Marc Lehmann @marclehmann

and yours truly, Leah Maclean – @leahmac

For those of you that are already on Twitter make sure that you drop me a comment and let us know your Twitter name (so that we can follow you) and also share your top Twitter tip.


One Response to “Can anyone really hear the conversation in cyberspace?”
  1. Thanks Leah. I never know how to explain Twitter to someone completely unaware of its potential. You’re right, it is just like a cocktail party, with interesting people and conversation.

    Come on over, the drinks are on me.