Abstraction, Perspective and Complexity: Social Media’s Canon of Proportions

10 Feb

One of the great failures of the Web 2.0 era is that its architects have built cathedrals centered around the self, the hooking of other entities that encourage aggregate as opposed to selective or contextual information and the informatic prioritisation of time over meaning. This often results in:

  • misalignment of priorities, as a result of individual or wider overvaluing of totems such as ‘followers’ quantities;
  • too much energy being dissipated by users running on a hamsters wheel, sifting through in time messages and updates;
  • cursory acknowledgement of information or signposts but not enough time to understand or revisit.

In many instance this can be unproductive, particularly as even obeying norms of usage is working within the inefficiencies of the ecosystems. Whilst it would be interesting to speculate on the economic and cultural reasoning as to why this outcome would emerge and ways of rectifying it in spite of economic drivers (such as the network effect) tethering many online actors and entities to inefficient processes and communities, it is perhaps better instead to highlight on failures of the current orthodoxy. This is done not only to highlight productivity and organisational failures of modern messaging tools, highlight clear and practical advice for current users but also provide positive direction for iterate improvements and destructive alternatives.

Screenshot from 2013-02-11 01:46:26

To provide an analogy covering challenges regarding information and communications a body of tweets collected from the Social+Informed Twitter account (used for earlier blog posts featured on sopinion8ed). It was created to highlight the need for organic approaches to categorization to manage complexity, as well as navigate tradeoffs that large data flows create. In particular it deals with the challenges regarding complex systems’ structures and approach to looking at bodies of information as if they are interlocking organs.

In this instance, the population evolved to exist into four main categories:

  • Strategic level Tweets (red);
  • Managerial level Tweets (green);
  • Processing level Tweets (blue);
  • Informatics components level Tweets (yellow).

Naturally this solution was not elegant for Tweets containing a message covering more than one of these main categories. In such instances a parent category was chosen but a coloured token for the second choice category was given to signify association. Additionally, given that one of the guiding themes of the Social+Informed account was for social social business generated important information on open source technologies and social entrepreneurship extra tokens were additionally created (white and brown). Similarly, to highlight GIS and visualisations coins were used and for cloud computing buttons.

Within mini clusters of similar themed tweets an effort was made to coordinate twinned Tweets in the closest directions. As intentioned and improved with each ordering iteration the mini clusters became more homogenous and neighbouring clusters more complementary to each other. For example, category borders would be similar in themes and corporate/organisational activities were at the borders whilst more general themes tended to be closer to the core. Perhaps naturally, information systems themes Tweets resided closer to the very centre, given the general nature of the themes and the mix of technology, process and peoples that such messages would cover.

The consequence of this synthesis is not only to create an archive of old material in a now more accessible format than what date the Tweets were created or what a common ‘find’ search query can offer. It helped offer:

  • A clarification of overriding themes that have already been explored and how they interrelate or are dissimilar;
  • An overview of themes and experts for this sample;
  • A framework for mapping out and quantifying/qualifying based around context and parameters future initiatives;

Whilst of value, such explorations emphasize the inefficient nature of Twitter as basic tool needing more sophisticated interpretations than the following/follower dynamic. As a simple method of mitigating this (for internal efficiency or external efficiency (ie, less ‘white noise’ for followers)) it is advisable to be operating multiple accounts dealing with specialist themes (which can be managed by either multiples browsers with multiple Twitter accounts running or an excel sheet to ‘bank’ into differing category themes Tweet urls of interesting messages until those user accounts are activated again. Here are some examples:

metr1c1de, covering benchmarking

secureitie, covering security

datam1n1ng, covering data and statistics

managechangeit, covering management, change and IT

[Screencast to come. For now, please use right click images below for satiation to see definition, using ctrl+ to zoom in and understand detail]

01 - DSCN6994

‘Database’ of Tweets

03 - DSCN6998

Tweets laid out into starting categories

04 - DSCN6988

First attempt at positioning Tweets into spread thematic plane. The camera quality results in too poor an image level for legibility

07 - DSCN7002

Second attempt at positioning Tweets into spread thematic plane. The lighting, camera quality and higher abstraction level as a result of further spaced out Tweets renders the messages unreadable.

08 - L1130338

Third attempt at positioning Tweets into spread thematic plane. Notice how the tradeoff for an aggregate view makes legibility of Tweets too difficult

09 - C-B - L1130343

Third attempt: Close up on management related Tweets. On closer inspection notice sunlight’s effect on readability of Tweets

09- C-R - L1130344

Third attempt: Close up on strategic related Tweets

09 - C-B -  L1130361-2mb

Third attempt: Close up on analytic related Tweets

10 - A-G - L1130349-flower

Third attempt: ‘Specialists’ viewpoint

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Other blog posts in the Order From Chaos miniseries include:

  1. Order From Chaos: Performance Management and Social Media Analytics in the Age of Big Data;
  2. Abstraction, Perspective and Complexity: Social Media’s Canon of Proportions;
  3. Logic, Computation and (f*(k?) Meming: On2logi+k,ing;
  4. Transposition, Catalysts and Synthesis: Playing with iMacwells eDemon.

More than just eCoal, eSteam and ePower: The Modernizing Dynamics of Change Series

  1. Introduction;
  2. Economic requirements: Catalyst for Invention, Innovation and Progress
  3. Not Just Invention: Change Through The Desire to Innovate, Reimagine and Expand;
  4. New Tools, New Patterns, New Thoughts: the Great Dialogue;
  5. Nobody Will Notice The Slow Death of Dissmeination, They Will Be Too Busy Listening;
  6. The frictions of competition and cooperation to strategic thinking;
  7. The Hot and Cold Wars: Relationships and conflicts between big and small, propriety and open source.

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If you have any suggestions, relevant links or questions to add flavour to this series then please join the dialogue below or contact me via Twitter:

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8 Responses to “Abstraction, Perspective and Complexity: Social Media’s Canon of Proportions”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Order From Chaos: Performance Management and Social Media Analytics in the Age of Big Data « So Opinionated … - February 11, 2013

    […] Abstraction, Perspective and Complexity: Social Media’s Canon of Proportions Logic, Computation and Meming: On2logi+k,ing Transposition, Catalysts and Synthesis: Playing with iMacwells eDemon […]

  2. Logic, Computation and (f*(k?) Meming: On2logi+k,ing « So Opinionated … - February 11, 2013

    […] Abstraction, Perspective and Complexity: Social Media’s Canon of Proportions Logic, Computation and Meming: On2logi+k,ing Transposition, Catalysts and Synthesis: Playing with iMacwells eDemon […]

  3. Nobody Will Notice The Slow Death of Dissemination, They Will Be Too Busy Listening « So Opinionated … - February 11, 2013

    […] Abstraction, Perspective and Complexity: Social Media’s Canon of Proportions; […]

  4. New Tools, New Patterns, New Thoughts: the Great Dialogue « So Opinionated … - February 11, 2013

    […] Abstraction, Perspective and Complexity: Social Media’s Canon of Proportions; […]

  5. Not Just Invention: Change Through the Desire to Innovate, Reimagine and Expand « So Opinionated … - February 11, 2013

    […] Abstraction, Perspective and Complexity: Social Media’s Canon of Proportions; […]

  6. Economic requirements: Catalyst for Invention, Innovation and Progress « So Opinionated … - February 11, 2013

    […] Abstraction, Perspective and Complexity: Social Media’s Canon of Proportions; […]

  7. Dialogue, Governance and Reform in the Web 2.0 Age: The Art of Noise « So Opinionated … - February 11, 2013

    […] Abstraction, Perspective and Complexity: Social Media’s Canon of Proportions; […]

  8. More than just eCoal, eSteam and ePower: The Modernizing Dynamics of Change « So Opinionated … - February 11, 2013

    […] Abstraction, Perspective and Complexity: Social Media’s Canon of Proportions; […]

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