James delivers a post on Asymetrical Follow that is well worth reading. There are a couple of interesting underlying issues that coalesce in Twitter, but for me there is a downside in that social networks in general – you know, the meatspace – don’t work with this degree of asymmetry in relationships either. Maybe James is right though, web 2.0 is premised on the ability to have asymmetry and deal with it.
I’m not suggesting this is a flaw in Twitter but the reality can’t be escaped, at some point we shifted from conversation to broadcast.
I have been giving Asymmetrical Follow a fair amount of thought lately. Certainly reaching 3000 followers has something to do with it. For me Twitter is a tool, as well as a conversation. Yesterday I got a request from a PR agency to brief me on a mobile IM technology called Palringo. I had never heard of it. But plenty of people in my network had. And I could engage with them because they could use an @reply which I would see, even though I didn’t necessarily follow them back. As a researcher this kind of function is invaluable. Just imagine the power of Jeremiah Owyang’s twinstant research network of 17,019 followers.
The other observation I will make is that there is a law of accelerating returns at work with Twitter follow/follower relationships. Simply put, the more followers you have the more you will get because the rate of growth accelerates as you get to higher numbers.
I think James raises some really good points and is insightful in how he articulates them, but there’s something at play here that I can’t quite put a finger on and it’s not a net positive.