Friday, 4 January 2008

Twitter - Telepathy 0.6.

Ok, I'm a recent convert. Like JP I've been watching people use it. I won't get version one of the Kindle either.

But twitter is interesting so I'm trying now. Feels like it's getting me a little closer to people, and it feels a bit like the boundary between me and the people I follow and are following me is getting thinner. People have more awareness of me, and we communicate on a more intimate basis. (Well, fellow tweeters and I do, which to be fair is not the vast majority of my friends, or even most folk on my Facebook list).

That boundary though, the distance that keeps us in the dark to each others thoughts and deeds has been getting thinner for quite some time, ever since the first design was sketched out on the cave wall and we went and killed deer collaboratively and then recorded with pride our deeds, while picking meat from our teeth with the bones. Yes, ever since then we've been getting closer and closer. There is a universal mind meld going on. It's just been taking a helluva long time.

Speech was a challenge. Look how many languages the world speaks! I'm not suggesting Esperanto or anything, I love the diversity we have, but if I'd been around when folk started talking I'd've tried damn hard to make sure that it was at least a bit easier for us all to make sense to each other.

But I suppose that's the case with a development process too, early versions have missing features, and sometimes inconsistencies, especially in large scale projects; the remit "Make the world communicate well" is a pretty big one, especially when you have no words to describe what "communicate" or "world" mean.

I guess the very fact that we talk at all is down to some crazy evolutionary innovation at some point. Must've been fun to be there at the beginning, and understand what a great thing speech was, how it was gonna change the world. Wow. People could talk to each other, even pass messages along, and we got cool prototypes of broadcasting.

That was just the start. Somebody picked up on this speech thing, saw what was going on with art, and came up with symbols, characters, alphabets, and did speech persistence. We could now write things down and store them. Wowee.

It gets better. We got even more organised. We worked together to deliver these persistent messages to each other. We copied them. We distributed them. We got mail!

Then some bright sparks put sounds and words down wires and into the air, and sent them between billions of places, using various forms of magic unfathomable to most.

All this time, with each innovation, we communicated in more detail, and with more depth, and with higher selection and choice of whom we shared communiqu├ęs with.

The development release history looks like this. And I think generally accepted ubiquity would do for the release dates.

0.1Passing on verbal grunts. Ugh arrr.
0.1.5Drawing on cave walls. (I'll spare you a sketch)
0.1.6
Handing out stones and bits of bark with drawings on.
0.2Speech.
0.3Writing (available for the first time in a closed beta, before general launch, a revolutionary step).
0.4.1The Postal Service
0.4.2The Printing Press
0.5Fixed Telephonic Comms
0.5.1Mobile Telephonic Comms
0.5.2One way thought transfer. No, bear with me here. I mean SMS, thanks to it's instant delivery.
0.5.3Instant Messaging. Two way thought transfer.
0.5.4Facebook (sorry Mark, just a point release, I've had an address book for years, though it IS nice to have a persistent and smart one, thank you for that)
0.6Twitter

I'm proud to be announcing the future release plans at Telepath World 2008. A whole jump ahead from when y'all had telephones, and congratulations Biz, it's a really big step.

You might disagree with me on this, but then, nothing is true, right?

Why do I say this, what is it about Twitter that gets us more telepathic than mere telephonic?

Is it because we have the combination of targetable, asynchronous, filterable, broadcastable, cross channel communications?

Partly.

Is it because I'm enjoying it at the moment?

Maybe.

But mostly it's because of what we do with it, and what we're going to do with it when the concept matures. Everything on the web is a prototype - at least I've been getting told that a bit recently, maybe it's a meme from somewhere.

telepathy

The sympathetic affection of one mind by the thoughts, feelings, or emotions of another at a distance, without communication through the ordinary channels of sensation.

It sounds to me like every step along the above release plan has been getting us a bit closer to the wikitionary definition. With general release of 0.6 we can share our thoughts with another, or more than one other person. OK, right now there's still a few wrinkles around grouping, selection, signal to noise ratio etc, but it's getting there.

Yeah, we're not quite done, let's call it an early alpha of v0.6 with something Not Quite Invented Yet. And you know, I think I also include within this Twitter release all this attention streaming and social network aggregation. Indeed, I'm sure there's still all to play for as to which companies end up getting it totally right for the long term telepathy market. I doubt that even Alexander Graham Bell line has much hereditary stake in relatively recent phone based businesses.

I think perhaps when saying "I don't tweet" becomes like saying "I don't have a phone" then Telepathy v0.6 is ready, and new innovation will be required to maintain the market.

I wonder what's next for telepathy?
What major breakthrough will occur?
It's hard to know how we'll communicate with each other in 5 years time now, let alone in 50. And what changes in social behaviours are required so that we can cope with any future developments on a global level, with such a huge population?
Will the all seeing aliens from the future come and shut down my blog?

Whatever happens, seems the engineering bods are working hard on stuff, maybe they discovered agile.

4 comments:

DE said...

Ah, the Machine Elves of Hyperspace have been talking to you again, hehe?

Yeah, Twitter is telepathy in its literal form I guess.

There was a point at which Twitter was accidentally created on TV. During the times when the Big Brother contestants were asleep, but the show still broadcast live, E4 just put any SMS messages the show received directly on screen in attempt to keep people watching.

I think Twitter has done something strange to attention streams by allowing you to see half a conversation. I don't normally care who Robbie is talking to on the phone, but somehow it might matter on Twitter. Thus the spider like linking to others and expanding your friends.

(The difference between "drawings on bark" and "writing" is just a syllabury. Rather long in beta though.)

Tim Stevens said...

I'm kinda assuming that we drew pictures on portable things before we really had anything that we would call speech. And that writing followed once we could verbally communicate better.

Course I've done no research, I'm not a historian, and nothing is true.

DE said...

Speech was there first - otherwise no one could say "what's that you just drew mate?"

The first writing was mainly accountants - you owe the king 10 lambs and a few fish. Some printing on clay tablets. Some scrolls.

Then the idea came that it was better to match a symbol to a part of speech than a concept. Bingo.

(Have a look at Guns, Germs and Steel - covers all this quite well)

Olu said...

"Look how many languages the world speaks! I'm not suggesting Esperanto or anything, I love the diversity we have"

Esperanto doesn't mean less language diversity!

Esperanto Protects Language Diversity and the Right to One's Own Language

Esperanto and language awareness

Tim Stevens

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