Serendipity was a major concern in the early days of the web. People argued that by letting your eye be drawn to a news story outside of your normal range of interests, the newspaper prevented you from becoming a blindered drone who knew everything about sports and business and nothing about everything else. It’s clear by now that hyperlinks provide serendipity of a deeper sort. Who can read a web site straight through without getting waylaid by some link and plunged into a world you knew nothing about until this moment?
Twitter has an enormous advantage over Facebook in one key area: while people on Facebook tend to friend their friends, people on Twitter tend to follow their interests. People use Twitter more like they use TV; they follow accounts they are interested in, namely celebrities and companies, and then they consume the content as a form of entertainment.
We are in an era where a spectatorial culture is giving a way to participatory culture. Convergence culture is a world where every story, sound, brand, image, relationship plays itself out across a maximum number of media channels.
As we expand the power to tell stories, we have the potential for stories to grab our imagination, to touch our hearts – stories that come not from entertainment infrastructure but from some average citizen whose reality has never been depicted on the screen before.
The most interesting effect of new communication technologies is not how we use them, but how they change how we use everything else. An addition to the communication ecosystem does not simply increase the number of options – it changes the system itself.
We need to read what everyone else is reading in order to have a sense of being in sync. If it’s in there, it matters, because everyone else read it.