Twitter: Network or Podium

Networking at The Royale Tweetup

Networking at The Royale Tweetup

Twitter: Network or Podium

Twitter is labeled a social networking tool. Wikipedia defines a social network as:

a social structure made up of individuals (or organizations) called “nodes”, which are tied (connected) by one or more specific types of interdependency, such as friendship, kinship, common interest, financial exchange, dislike, sexual relationships, or relationships of beliefs, knowledge or prestige.

That’s a mouthful, covering many types of networks.

Podiums are platforms that raise one above the crowd. Paraphrased from Wikipedia.

Simpler but the differences are many.

So which is twitter to me? It’s definitely in the social network category. I’m a node with ties to many other nodes. Most ties not only go both ways, but parallel others. Rarely is a node in the network with a single tie in.

Podiums implies a one to many relationship, and may imply a single direction tie, i.e. speaker or preacher to a crowd or assembly. Podium implies active listeners, people on the other end coming along willingly ‘for a time’.  Here’s the rub on Twitter. Some folks never leave the podium to join in the more common type of networking, many to many.

Podium use is a special case of social networking on Twitter. During a certain chat session, one may be a leader, sharing links, notes, and idea while others merely listen. Twitter isn’t a simple room where there’s one microphone, one method to share, or systems in place to limit connections, say as in a meeting hall. It doesn’t long abide a lone voice that doesn’t interact.

Sure, that person may gather up followers, as people hope for a nugget here and there.  Time though brings a lack of interest. That speaker on the podium only has so much to say that hasn’t been heard or isn’t better absorbed on another platform. People go back to active networking, creating ties with other nodes, destroying some, and just exercising others.

Maybe it is the lack of built in rules and structures that leads to this bit of chaos. I’d say though it’s organic and living, messy but self organizing. Twitter folks, the nodes, each have intrinsic value by connecting; each brings a unique bit of DNA to the organism.

Does the occasional node stand out and speak to the rest of the network? Sure. It happens. Is it the norm? Not at all. Soon that voice (node) is drowned out and it’s connected nodes move on to more energetic and life giving connections. In practice, people are drawn to interaction more than listening.

So network or podium? It’s clear to me that Twitter can be a podium for some. It isn’t either. Does it last? Is it a profitable use of your time? I’ll let you decide.

While you’re thinking about it, I’ll keep working to add value to my node so that people forming ties to me don’t regret punching that button.


Post inspired by #UsGuys thread, with @youternmark & @danenow involved in setting topic & organizing the effort. Many minds contributed as well, and drove this from chatter to a regular blogging exercise, #usblogs.

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