Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Dealing with TMI

Originally uploaded by SteveHargadon
Too much information. My kids call it "511" when someone tells too much of a story (411 +). I'm way past 511, and have been closing in on 911 with this information overload, desperately needing help. Every day I find more audio, pdf, and rss content than I know how to deal with.

Part of the difficulty is the need I feel to store, hoard, save, print, and process. (Did I include "create?" ) My old habits come from the pre-Internet world I grew up in. (That's partly why the iPhone is such an amazing paradigm shift--always on Net means you don't have to store the .mp3 or video to listen to/watch it later...)

So Twitter for me has been just one more list of things to read, and a new source of worry that I might "miss" something. So I just gave it up. Went cold turkey. I stopped looking at Twitter. Turned my back on the cutting edge. But today, in one of those moments of serendipity, looking at my extra LCD monitor, and reading about Twittercamp again in the context of the Learning 2.0 Conference in Shanghai, I took a few minutes (OK, an hour) and set up the monitor for extended desktop viewing and put Twittercamp on the secondary monitor.

Wow. What a difference. Twitter feeds there, just as many as before, interesting but not compulsively interruptive. Twittercamp has new items do a slow "burst" onto the screen, so you know something new has come up, and can look over to the right spot when you want. But there is something more going on.

The old tweets just go away. Because Twittercamp is highly visual, an old tweet going away is somehow natural. Not like looking at Twitter in other forms. The posts are also placed randomly on the screen, which adds to the effect of the information being transient. As if to say, "this is possibly good information to have, but perishable." Somehow, when the tweets are off the Twittercamp screen, I don't feel that I need to have seen every one.

I can imagine having a large screen on the wall, at home or work, just giving glimpses of the lives of those in our separate spheres. Add their latest video and still images, some news feeds, and I begin to see a vision of where this technology may lead.

UPDATE: Need to mention that running on Windows, Twittercamp has had some troubles--something happens and it stops showing updates, and you have to restart the program. Maybe restart a couple of times. And I can think of one huge improvement right away: some light color coding to show how recent posts are. That would be an amazing improvement.

SECOND UPDATE: When having trouble with Twittercamp, I tried another Twitter display program (Twitteroo) and found that it, too, was not picking up feeds. So some of what I may have attributed to Twittercamp may actually be Twitter-related. More serendipity: when I had Twitteroo and Twittercamp both open, I loved hearing the Twitteroo sound announcing new tweets.

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