relationship posts

Building Rapport With Users Is Building Rapport With People December 17th, 2014

We use specific techniques to build rapport in user research, but of course those techniques work to build rapport in other situations. Here’s two great examples of rapport in relationships that map quite closely to rapport in fieldwork.

Caution: Stuffed Shirts Ahead [NYT]

Instead, miss no opportunity to chat congenially with your new colleagues — lunch, coffee, the proverbial water cooler, whatever. But remember, these conversations aren’t about you. Though you don’t want to seem evasive, avoid leaping into a happy reminiscence about foosball tournaments with your delightful former colleagues.

Think of the process as the workplace equivalent of politicians’ “listening tours” during the run-up to election season. Don’t ask, “So what’s it like to work here?” or “Do you like it here?” or anything else that requires a point-blank value judgment. Ask neutral questions like, “So how long have you worked here?” Then keep quiet.

People love to talk about themselves, and if you can signal that you’re actually interested in what they’re saying — and not merely waiting for your turn to talk — most will do it all day long. (One of the oldest interview tricks that reporters use is silence: There’s a human tendency to fill a conversational void, so let the other person do it.) In addition to signaling that you’re going to fit in, you’ll likely pick up useful clues to help you do precisely that.

It may take a little patience, but you’ll gradually be able to piece together what you need to know about how this new environment works — and who among your new colleagues has the same kind of sensibility as yours. Remember that even if the company is formal and bureaucratic, chances are that at least some of the people who work there are, in fact, agreeable human beings — the kind who like doughnuts.

5 ways to build a good relationship with anyone [The Week]

I picked up a copy of an underground indie best-seller called It’s Not All about Me: The Top Ten Techniques for Building Quick Rapport with Anyone. The author, Robin Dreeke, is in charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s elite Counterintelligence Behavioral Analysis Program. Robin combines hard science and years of work in the field to offer practical tips to build rapport and establish trust.

  1. Ask them questions.
  2. Don’t be a conversation dictator.
  3. Allow them to talk.
  4. Genuinely try to understand their thoughts and opinions.
  5. Leave your ego at the door.
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ChittahChattah Quickies January 23rd, 2012

Teenagers Sharing Passwords as Show of Affection [NYTimes] – Can you believe it’s been 17 years since Seinfeld considered the shareability of an ATM password within a relationship? Now we have more passwords controlling more access to more parts of our lives, so the issue is just that much more pressing.

The digital era has given rise to a more intimate custom. It has become fashionable for young people to express their affection for each other by sharing their passwords to e-mail, Facebook and other accounts. Boyfriends and girlfriends sometimes even create identical passwords, and let each other read their private e-mails and texts. They say they know such digital entanglements are risky, because a souring relationship can lead to people using online secrets against each other. But that, they say, is part of what makes the symbolism of the shared password so powerful.

Waterstones drops its apostrophe [Telegraph] – The justification of digitalization is a curious one. Since I have no attachment to the brand, personally, I like the new name’s evocation of rocks just below the surface of a flowing brook, rather than the possessive-of-someone-with-a-classic-British-name seen in the previous version.

The country’s last remaining national chain of bookshops, founded by Tim Waterstone, has decided it is more “practical” to ditch the apostrophe. James Daunt, the managing director, who took over the chain last year following a change of ownership said: “Waterstones without an apostrophe is, in a digital world of URLs and email addresses, a more versatile and practical spelling.” One customer on Twitter responded: “Wish I’d used that in spelling tests …”. Others used the hashtag #isnothingsacred, while another tweeted that it was another step towards apostrophe extinction. John Richards, the chairman of the Apostrophe Protection Society said: “It’s just plain wrong. It’s grammatically incorrect. If Sainsbury’s and McDonald’s can get it right, then why can’t Waterstones. You would really hope that a bookshop is the last place to be so slapdash with English.”

At Bank of America, the Image Officer Has a Lot to Fix [NYTimes] – Buried in a hagiographic profile (that, given the subject matter, might have been just a tad more circumspect) is this familiar bit of corporate speak about what people do and don’t want and what they do and don’t say they want.

Ms. Finucane jumped to Hill Holiday, a Boston advertising agency, where she developed a flair for marketing. At one point, the agency conducted a study for Hyatt Hotels, aiming to distinguish between what customers said they wanted and what they really wanted.The lesson, Ms. Finucane recalls, was this: Customers don’t always know what they want. “You may say you want a bathrobe and slippers,” she says, “but the truth is you really want a telephone in the bathroom.”

Dating service connects people over their leftovers [Wired] – This little story is actually a leftover itself, from some of Julie’s scouring-the-web-for-curiosities. Might make more sense to pair up people with extra food and people with not enough food, rather than try to force a romantic connection into the mix. I guess that’s what sells, though.

Farmers cooperative Lantmännen has developed a dating tool that connects singles based on what food they have leftover in their fridges. It might not sound like the level of psychometric filtering touted by other dating websites, but Lantmännen aims to pair up fellow environmentally-conscious single people to share leftover dishes or ingredients. According to Lantmannen, a fifth of all food in Sweden is thrown away. It was this figure that led to the creation of the dating service, called Restdejting. People are invited to visit the website and enter up to five ingredients that they have hanging around the kitchen. This list is then published to Facebook for other Restdejting singles to peruse.

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ChittahChattah Quickies July 26th, 2010
  • [from steve_portigal] Drilling Down – Why Elite Shoppers Eschew Logos [NYTimes.com] – Rather than rely on obvious logos, expensive products use more discreet markers, such as distinctive design or detailing. High-end consumers prefer markers of status that are not decipherable by the mainstream. These signal group identity only to others with the connoisseurship to recognize their insider standing. In one study, fashion students were more likely than regular students to favor subtle signals for products visible to others, like handbags. But for private products less relevant to identity, like underwear and socks, there was no difference between the groups. Jonah Berger, an assistant professor of marketing at the University of Pennsylvania and one of the paper’s authors, said it was not that insiders simply had a dislike for logos. Instead, he said, they avoid them “in identity-relevant domains to distinguish themselves from mainstream consumers who buy such products to show they’ve made it.”
  • [from steve_portigal] ElderGadget.com | News and Reviews of Products with Elder Friendly Features – Those of us with aging parents share many things, chief among them the desire that our elderly loved ones have the opportunity for the same quality of life that we enjoy. For some this means remaining independent, for others it might mean a need to make caregiving simpler to meet the needs of people we love. The elderly prefer simple uncomplicated gadgets and products which are lighter and specially designed with higher contrast, pre-programmed features. Products of use might include talking Pill boxes, medi-alerts, and a myriad of gadgets with simple “how to use” instructions. That’s the focus with Eldergadget, a comprehensive blog where a person with an aging loved one can go to find the latest gadgets that meet a seniors needs and maybe some products you have never dreamed possible. We also bring you the latest up to date news, videos and developments in technology for seniors. We also include lighthearted fare such as humor and retro gadgets in order to brighten a person’s day.
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ChittahChattah Quickies May 16th, 2010
  • Texting in Meetings – It Means ‘I Don’t Care’ [NYTimes.com] – For more than a decade, my colleagues and I have gathered data on incivility from more than 9,000 managers and workers across the United States, and we’re continuing this work internationally. We have learned a great deal about the problem’s causes and consequences. I define incivility as behavior, seemingly inconsequential to the doer, that others perceive as inconsiderate. Electronic devices lead to more incivility because of their powerful ability to claim our attention — no matter where we are or what we’re doing. No one likes to be snubbed, of course, but the offense can take on a new edge when the winner is a machine.
  • Putting Customers in Charge of Designing Shirts [NYTimes.com] – “The value proposition of customization at retail prices was a cornerstone of our company from the very start,” Mr. Bi tells me by phone from Shanghai, where Blank Label shirts are sewn to customers’ specifications and delivered anywhere in the world in about four weeks. But Blank Label, his Web start-up based in Boston, offers something else that off-the-rack doesn’t: “the emotional value proposition: how expressive something is.” “People really like a Blank Label shirt because they can say, ‘I had a part in creating this.’ ”
  • Google Restricts Ads for ‘Cougar’ Sites [NYTimes.com] – Last week, CougarLife.com, which was paying Google $100,000 a month to manage its advertising, was notified by the company that its ads would no longer be accepted. When notified by Google of the decision, CougarLife proposed substituting a different ad for the ones that were running, picturing older women and younger men together. Cougarlife said it would use an image of the company’s president, Claudia Opdenkelder, 39, without a man in the picture (she lives with her 25-year-old boyfriend). But the advertising department was told in an e-mail message from its Google representative that “the policy is focused particularly around the concept of ‘cougar dating’ as a whole,” and asked if the company would be open to changing “the ‘cougar’ theme/language specifically (including the domain if necessary).” CougarLife forwarded the e-mail messages to The New York Times. Google would not comment on the messages but did confirm that they were consistent with the new policy on cougar sites.
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ChittahChattah Quickies May 5th, 2010
  • Cupidtino: Meet An Apple Fanboy Or Fangirl – Cupidtino is a beautiful new dating site created for fans of Apple products by fans of Apple products! Why? Diehard Mac & Apple fans often have a lot in common – personalities, creative professions, a similar sense of style and aesthetics, taste, and of course a love for technology. We believe these are enough reasons for two people to meet and fall in love, and so we created the first Mac-inspired dating site to help you find other Machearts around you. [They claim it's not a joke /SP]
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ChittahChattah Quickies April 11th, 2010
  • Books Travellers Read in Mumbai Locals [Windy Skies] – This is Part I of my ongoing attempt to note the books my fellow travellers read in Mumbai local trains on their way to work and back. I ride the infamous Mumbai local train network to work each day, unconsciously observing my fellow passengers when I’m not squeezed breathless or pounded into submission in the surging crowds that bring a new meaning to the concept of pressure. While it is not always easy to move around once inside the train, it is sometimes possible to pull off a picture of the reader and his book. The readers will rarely look up from the books they’re reading. They don’t need to, tuned in as they are to approaching stations from years of travelling on the local train network.<br />
    (via Dina Mehta)
  • Duncan Hines Brownie Husband – [Saturday Night Live] – "The perfect blend of rich fudge and emotional intimacy." Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant. (via Design Observer)
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ChittahChattah Quickies March 31st, 2010
  • GameCrush: Pay to play–with girls [CNET] – The website GameCrush pays girls to play video games and live-chat with gamers who pay for the privilege. It's the gaming equivalent of buying a girl a drink to chat her up, the developers say. A Player (yes, they're called "Players") buys points–500 cost $8.25–and uses them to buy "game time" with a PlayDate (yes, they're called PlayDates). Players browse through PlayDate profiles, and once they find one they're interested in they can send a gaming invite. If the PlayDate accepts the invitation, she can set her mood to "Flirty" or "Dirty" and it's game on (though any real gaming girl would set her profile to "Hurty" and kick your ass). The pair can chat, play, or both for the amount of time purchased. When their time is up, the Player is invited to send the remaining 100 points to his PlayDate as a tip.
  • The Idea of the Book [Murketing] – Rob Walker's interesting series of posts that look at the physical performance of the "book" as it morphs into or is represented by or as other objects such as sculpture, food, planters, purses, etc.
  • Story Book inColor by AIPTEK – AIPTEK Story Book inColor is the 1st color E-Book on the market and there are 20 built-in illustrated audio stories. Children can open the Story Book inColor and enjoy the story telling with illustration instead of watching TV alone. AIPTEK also provide online bookstore for story book purchasing and downloading. AIPTEK Story Book inColor can store as many books as children want. Story Book inColor creates a whole new experience with fun and easy learning process which leads children learn to love the reading. The 4-way buttons simulated the scenario for children of searching favorite books on bookcase and also the page up and down feeling when reading. There is 1GB internal memory on AIPTEK Story Book inColor which can stores up to 45 story books. The story books also can be saved to SD/SDHC, MMC, MS pro, and USB drive. Besides, in order to protect children’s eyes, after reading over 20 minutes, AIPTEK Story Book inColor will pop up an icon to remind children to take a rest.
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ChittahChattah Quickies December 12th, 2009
  • Streisand effect – The Streisand effect is an Internet phenomenon where an attempt to censor or remove a piece of information backfires, causing the information to be publicized widely and to a greater extent than would have occurred if no censorship had been attempted.. Origin is in reference to a 2003 incident in which Barbra Streisand unsuccessfully sued photographer Kenneth Adelman and Pictopia.com for US$50 million in an attempt to have the aerial photograph of her house removed from the publicly available collection of 12,000 California coastline photographs, citing privacy concerns
  • NYC replaces automated toilets with staffed restrooms, a signifier of trust – But where the floors of the old restrooms had a tank-tread-like surface that automatically rotated across a scrubbing system after each use, and the toilets themselves were cleaned by a rim-mounted U-shaped traveling brush, the new ones are inspected, mopped and scrubbed — 15 to 25 times a day — by eagle-eyed, uniformed men and women.

    “It’s an attendant who knows what’s going on and has functions that go from sanitation to exchanging a few words with you to generally having a sense of what should be done,” said Jerome Barth, the partnership’s vice president for operations. “People see them, and they know the bathrooms are clean.”

  • Florida judges shouldn’t friend Florida lawyers on Facebook – A new advisory warns it may create the appearance of a conflict. Being a "fan" is still okay.
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ChittahChattah Quickies November 27th, 2009
  • Waldo Hunt, 88, dies; repopularized pop-up books in 1960s – "He was such an important publisher of pop-up books who really advanced them technically. The pop-up designers who worked for him were amazing creative engineers," said Cynthia Burlingham, director of the Grunwald Center for the Graphic Arts at the Hammer Museum of UCLA.

    The first golden age of movable books began in the late 1800s, when European publishers crafted elaborate books for children, and ended with the onset of World War I. With Mr. Hunt's epiphany, the second golden age was about to begin.

    "I knew I'd found the magic key," Mr. Hunt said. "No one was doing pop-ups in this country. No one could afford to make them here. They had to be done by hand, and labor was too expensive."

    He started Graphics International, and produced a series of pop-up ads featuring zoo scenes as part of a magazine campaign for Wrigley's gum. Soon, his company was creating pop-up table decorations and greeting cards for Hallmark.

  • Electronic Popable Books from MIT – Electronic popables integrate paper-based electronic sensors that allow amazing interactivity — turning on lights and moving images at the touch of a finger. Will it catch on or will the line between printing on paper and electronic media become so blurred that consumers will opt to watch the story on a screen?
  • StoryCorps: National Day of Listening – On the day after Thanksgiving, set aside one hour to record a conversation with someone important to you. You can interview anyone you choose: an older relative, a friend, a teacher, or someone from the neighborhood.

    You can preserve the interview using recording equipment readily available in most homes, such as cell phones, tape recorders, computers, or even pen and paper. Our free Do-It-Yourself Instruction Guide is easy to use and will prepare you and your interview partner to record a memorable conversation, no matter which recording method you choose.

    Make a yearly tradition of listening to and preserving a loved one’s story. The stories you collect will become treasured keepsakes that grow more valuable with each passing generation.
    (via BoingBoing)

  • London 2009 – a set on Flickr – My London pictures from our recent visit
  • Every year, The Harris Poll asks a cross-section of adults whether they think about 20 leading industries do a good or a bad job of serving their consumers. – Note that the cable industry regularly appears on this poll as doing a bad job.
  • Time Warner insincerely and manipulatively asks customers to "vote" if it should "get tough" or "roll over" – Facing expiring deals with a number of key programmers, the nation's second-largest cable operator is launching a Web site, rolloverorgettough.com, which it says is designed to give its subscribers a voice in what it calls unfair price demands by content suppliers. Time Warner says those who operate broadcast and cable networks are asking for "incredible price hikes," as much as 300%. Customers will be able to vote on whether the operator rolls over, or should get tough, about price increases.

    "You're our customers, so help us decide what to do. We're just one company, but there are millions of you. Together, we just might be able to make a difference in what America pays for its favorite entertainment."

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ChittahChattah Quickies November 4th, 2009
  • Online and on iPhone, authors read 10 pages of their latest work – Aiming to introduce readers to authors they aren't yet familiar with, zehnSeiten (German for ten pages) promotes writers through videos that feature them reading ten pages from their latest novel.

    Available both online and as an iPhone app, the videos are simple, fixed-camera affairs. No dramatic introductions or filmed scenes, just black and white recordings of authors sitting at a table and reading from their work. By eliminating frills, the focus is on the author and production time and costs are kept to a minimum.

  • A Story Before Bed – asynchronous distant storytime – As Jason Kottke explains "A Story Before Bed allows you to record yourself reading a bedtime story to a faraway child…maybe you're away from home on business or a grandparent who lives in another state or just working late. When storytime rolls around, the child sees the book onscreen plus a video of you reading it to them. Slick."
  • Michael Turner on authors, digital, content, and meaning – (highly edited excerpt) – The problem with seeing "digital tools" as "problems" lies in the writer's inability to see the computer and the Internet less as tools than as a medium — the analogy being that the Internet is to the palette what the computer is to the canvas. If an author identifies his or herself as a "good old-fashioned storyteller", someone of bad manners and singular genius, a romantic, a lovable eccentric whose hat is always a little bit too big for their head, then the best way to convey that fantasy — and the book it squirted from — is to complain about "digital tools."

    Some authors have taken to [publisher requests to use digital to promote] better than others…using their books as a device by which to cast shade, create depth, movement, hopefully leading them to new places, new ways of making meaning.
    (via kottke)

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ChittahChattah Quickies May 26th, 2009
  • Cows with names produce more milk, scientists say – The story is slightly hyperbolic – a cow with a name is a proxy for all the other differentiating factors in cow-care. "Placing more importance on knowing the individual animals and calling them by name can – at no extra cost to the farmer – also significantly increase milk production. Maybe people can be less self conscious and not worry about chatting to their cows."
    (via @timstock)
  • Time magazine has called Beer Lao Asia’s best local beer, but outside Laos it's almost impossible to find – Like a film festival winner without a distribution deal, the rice-based lager has struggled to turn cult status into anything other than good press. Just 1 percent of its annual production is exported. Lao Brewery hopes to change that. It would like to see 10 percent sold abroad, and it is counting on Vang Vieng’s beer-loving backpackers to help them make the sale.

    Lao Brewery is building a network of fans-turned-distributors who import and sell the beer in select markets. Some distributors are former travelers who see potential in a brand with little international exposure. Others just really like the beer.

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ChittahChattah Quickies May 24th, 2009
  • What Does Your Credit-Card Company Know About You? – "In 2002 J. P. Martin, a math-loving executive at Canadian Tire, decided to analyze almost every piece of information his company had collected from credit-card transactions the previous year. His data indicated, for instance, that people who bought cheap, generic automotive oil were much more likely to miss a credit-card payment than someone who got the expensive, name-brand stuff. People who bought carbon-monoxide monitors for their homes or those little felt pads that stop chair legs from scratching the floor almost never missed payments. Anyone who purchased a chrome-skull car accessory or a “Mega Thruster Exhaust System” was pretty likely to miss paying his bill eventually. Why were felt-pad buyers so "upstanding? Because they wanted to protect their belongings, be they hardwood floors or credit scores."

    The article goes on to describe how debt collectors build relationships with (rather than harass) debtors, who pay off more to the brands they have a relationship with.

  • We Are Now In The Age Of Nice – another Sunday NYT unsubstantiated trend-attempt – That amiable guys and uncomplicated sweethearts could be today’s pop heroes is one sign of an outbreak of niceness across the cultural landscape — an attitude bubbling up in commercials, movies and even, to a degree, the normally not-nice blogosphere.
  • Can supposedly-predictive quantitative market research techniques help Hollywood? – Still, is it smart to bring on pricey consultants when corporate overlords are demanding cost cuts? And what of the parade of failed attempts by consumer research firms to break into Hollywood? Few people in the industry can forget Tremor, the research firm that was owned by Procter & Gamble. It came to Hollywood in 2002, signed up with Creative Artists Agency and roped clients like DreamWorks — though its ideas often proved prohibitively expensive.
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ChittahChattah Quickies March 6th, 2009
  • The Computer Will See You Now – how the computer interferes with the doctor-patient interaction – Doctors struggle daily to figure out a way to keep the computer from interfering with what should be going on in the exam room — making that crucial connection between doctor and patient. I find myself apologizing often, as I stare at a series of questions and boxes to be clicked on the screen and try to adapt them to the patient sitting before me. I am forced to bring up questions in the order they appear, to ask the parents of a laughing 2-year-old if she is “in pain,” and to restrain my potty mouth when the computer malfunctions or the screen locks up.

    The computer depersonalizes medicine. It ignores nuances that we do not measure but clearly influence care. Room is provided for text, but in the computer’s font, important points often get lost.

    A box clicked unintentionally is as detrimental as an order written illegibly — maybe worse because it looks official. It takes more effort and thought to write a prescription than to pull up a menu of medications and click a box.

  • Tension between medical and colloquial language – an issue I explored in interactions column (Poets, Priests, and Politicians) – (via MeFi) Dr Ardill, in evidence, said he did not use the words alleged by Ms McQuade. He said he asked her was she “next or near a man’s willy bits” in the last six months and in relation to her sleeping he did suggest a drink, light exercise, a trashy novel or some “rumpy pumpy”. He said he used this kind of “childish” language with all patients to make them feel at ease. Nobody before had found it offensive. He said he would not use the term “willy bits” again.
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Local Starbucks exhibits passion for their customers January 6th, 2009

starbucksboard
Recently I was in the Starbucks in the Lucasfilm Letterman Digital Arts Center and was surprised to see what was written on the chalkboard

Starbucks is the same EVERYWHERE. What makes us different is our customers = YOU. We’ve worked all over the city, all over the state and we can honestly say that you are the BEST customers EVER. PERIOD. We see you everyday. People from LUCAS, PAC UNION, YMCA, B&B, THE PRESIDIO, THE MARINA & so many more…
You make us love our jobs, make us love coming into work – thank you! Thank you for being you.
Lucky us!
Happy Holidays.

I am not a regular at this Starbucks, so I don’t know how genuine this acknowledgment of a special relationship feels. It’s a curious example of transparency, asking customers to care about whether or not the workers like their jobs or not, and it’s a curious example of localized empowerment. Does corporate really want individual stores making statements like “Starbucks is the same everywhere?”

What do you think? Is this believable or giddy holiday spirit from someone who used to work on the yearbook team in high school? Should Starbucks be encouraging or discouraging this sort of expression in their stores?

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Twittering April 30th, 2007

twitter.png
In From Many Tweets, One Loud Voice on the Internet, the NYT explains Twitter.

“Twitterers” send and receive short messages, called “tweets,” on Twitter’s Web site, with instant messaging software, or with mobile phones. Unlike most text messages, tweets – usually in answer to Twitter’s prompt, “What are you doing?” – are routed among networks of friends. Strangers, called “followers,” can also choose to receive the tweets of people they find interesting.

Tweets are published on a “public timeline” on Twitter’s home page.

I finally started using it and I’m not sure I like it. I have an instant message window that every once in a while pops up a small statement from someone I’ve decided to follow. Someone I know, or know of. It’s the same people I’m linked to on flickr, dopplr, and many others.

I think the phenomenon of loosely-keeping-in-touch is fascinating. Last year, in one week I went to one party and someone started a conversation about a recent trip, skipping the “so where have you been lately” because they subscribe to my flickr pics, while at a dinner with friends, something that had been included in a blog posting (something more biographical about me, I had bought something, or had some experience, etc.) moved the discussion forward, without me having to introduce the story. When you see people you know, people who you don’t directly interact with very regularly, they already are vaguely “in touch” because of stuff that you publish.

If you don’t “publish” you can still “consume” of course, and keep up with people who may not know much about you.

I think it’s a really powerful idea, it’s an impactful side effect of some simple technologies like putting up your pictures on a website. It starts to evolve well-formed social interactions like party chat.

Twitter takes that behavior and blows it up. The side effect is now the main effect (and no doubt tons of new side effects are created).

And I don’t like using Twitter. It makes me feel lonely and isolated. I don’t know what most people are talking about, I sometimes feel bad I’m not included in their conferences, travels, adventures, dining. Maybe I’ve chosen the wrong people to follow, maybe it’s not the same people to Twitter with that I would LinkIn with. I don’t have a posse, a regular gang. I have social relationships with colleagues, but we’re not in each other’s lives in any sort of deep way.

I don’t dismiss or blame Twitter; I may find the experience evolves over time, or I may simply bail. It’s always interesting to introduce new layers of interface onto my social interactions and see what the impact is.

I’d love to hear from others how they are using Twitter and of course how I might start using Twitter.

Update: My twitters, lame as they are, are here.

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