All externalities, everywhere, all the time

@tylercowen Just noticed that your praise of twitter was almost all externalities–ways a nonuser could benefit. Perverse sort of praise.

That is Hyperpape, from Twitter.  By "nonuser" I think he means "non-tweeter," not non-reader or non-searcher.  In my portrait Twitter consists mainly of social benefits yet it offers few private gains for many generators of the content.  So why do so many people do it?  Maybe it tricks our instincts for sociability or connection. 

If suppliers can control our environments to an increasing degree, and thus trick our instincts, is "all externalities" the production paradigm of the future?  Is that what the web is about?

Maybe I should tweet that.

It would be odd if a medium which appears to offer so much choice in fact tricks and enslaves us to work for others.

Here is my previous praise of Twitter.

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However, insofar as Twitter's usability as a learning medium is derived from its massive centralization of great minds (buried within the masses of not-so-great minds, of course), would not it appear that, by promoting "good citizenship" (be it by tweeting important information or forming social networks through tagging), one is collaborating, rather than being "enslaved"? In essence, by giving a small donation to the cause, the cause itself is furthered multiple times over?

N.B.: I'm well aware of how collectivistic that sounds. But Twitter is nothing more than collectivistic anarchy, organized by individuals that can digest the information they want.

Rather than tricking our instinct for sociability or connection I think it appeals in a straightforward fashion to our instinct to show off and gain a certain form of fame and recognition. When you get followers or strangers retweet you you're being rewarded in exactly the way you bargained for when you crafted 140 characters of freely redistributable content.

I don't make TV shows, I only watch them. Does that make me a non-tv user? Is it that surprising that there the number of followers aren't evenly distributed amongst tweeters? I follow status updates of my friends on Facebook, and once and awhile see what some celebrities are tweetering about on Twitter.

Good web search helped make the web better by increasing the audience of good content, which provided inducements for more people to publish better content.

Good Twitter search does the same for Twitter.


It would be odd if a medium which appears to offer so much choice in fact tricks and enslaves us to work for others.

What is best in life? To follow your enemies, see them texting before you, and to hear the lamentation of their tweets!

I'm not sure saying Twitter "tricks" our instincts for sociability is correct, any more than claiming that attending a gathering of friends "tricks" our instincts for sociability. They both satisfy this instinct, and thereby bring us happiness--where's the trick?

Tweeting still counts as saying it on the record -- it can be valuable to show that you had an idea first. Or that you are keeping a pulse on important developments in a field -- 'tweeting' links on a given topic can help demonstrate that you have a strong and continuous grasp on a subject, which can help convince say, a prospective employer or graduate admissions officer, that you know your stuff, and that you didn't try to cram learning about a subject into a few days before the interview.

That's part of it's value. It's also valuable to demonstrate a knowledge of 'new media.' Many jobs that recent college grads I know have applied for request that you have a knowledge of 'social media' for what's perceived (whether true or not) to be its potential as a future marketing tool. An active twitter account shows that you have mastery of the medium.

"It would be odd if a medium which appears to offer so much choice in fact tricks and enslaves us to work for others."

Isn't that what a political campaign office already does?

Giving is the most powerful thing you can do for yourself, the opportunities are endless when you put others ahead of your own interests. http://www.healyourlife.com/author-articles/wisdom/inspiration/reversing-the-flow

"In my portrait Twitter consists mainly of social benefits yet it offers few private gains for many generators of the content. So why do so many people do it? "

I tweet , therefore I am ?

Rama

To elaborate, I (hyperpape) saw a rhetorical oddity in Tyler's post. His praise highlighted benefits to the non-tweeter, but even if Tyler isn't telling us to tweet the question of what motivates the user immediately arises. Altruistic motives are rational and even theoretically important, but they don't tell you which 140 characters to write (or even to write at all). The proximal motives or habits are quite important.

Aside from externalities, I think the Internet gains by changing many of our intrinsic desires, or by leading us to act on desires that would have otherwise gone unrecognized.

Fwiw, my tweets are 90% "social proprioception". The benefits I receive are 75% "social proprioception", 15% reading things people in my field write or link to, 10% the ability to loudly ask questions of famous people (e.g Tyler). Tweets are more often answered than comment threads, in my experience. Perhaps this last doesn't serve the collective good.

I should have provided this to start, but if you want a taste of the stuff that Benkler is working on:
http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/benkler09/benkler09_index.html

I saw this headline on twitter and was all excited to hear about what sort of trouble grown-up trust-fund mutants can get other people into while funding research and testing in genetic manipulation - then I was all "wha? Worthington fights demons in LA?" and THEN I was all "Oh, Angel not Archangel.

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