Twitter’s got a new feature that allows users to see another users’s twitter stream. That is, to change POV. According to Techcrunch: Now You Can See Twitter The Way I See Twitter.
I’ve always wondered why social media tools and sites are designed to provide only the user’s own experience — not including the experience his/her friends and audience has. Of course it seems completely natural that we use our social tools from our own perspective.
But our experiences of most everyday social situations include those of others. The separation and distance of social media is part of its charm — but also key to its illusions. The medium’s smoke and mirrors rely on our individual isolation from one another. Together, but separate; present, but absent.
In fact in designing social tools, including the other’s POV would seem to offer a really compelling opportunity. Why not see ourselves through others’ eyes (so to speak, see, watch…). It’s a voyeuristic medium (to some, and of a sort). It’s reflective, and shiny, and we enjoy seeing ourselves and seeing ourselves as seen and acknowledged by others. So why not design with multiple and shifting POV?
I’ve not yet used twitter’s new feature, so the jury’s out for the moment. But twitter is designed around an illusion to begin with: that of placing my tweets in the context of those I follow (not those following me). The illusion created is of a continuous conversation stream or space/context — where in fact the more accurate design would have been to show my tweets along with those of my followers. In other words, my tweets seen with those of the people who follow/ pay attention to me.
But this conversation design, more honest as it would have been, would have been a less interesting user experience. And less psychologically compelling. After all, each twitter stream is a fabrication — a conversation thread of sorts but entirely and uniquely for me.
Users supply the mental/psychic connection between their own selves and the presence of those they follow on twitter. That the people I see in my stream are likely entirely elsewhere and otherwise occupied, and in some cases aren’t even following me, is twitter’s design conceit. A visual con-textual sleight of hand.
It’s worth wondering what provision of the other’s perspective might do for social tools. Worth thinking on!