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This is my personal blog which I began in February 2001. I called it The Obvious? when I wrote anonymously and chose the name to reflect the fact I have to overcome my inhibitions about stating the obvious!

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Sunday
Sep272009

Twitter's Suggested Users List (not)

It was a proud moment to be included in Robert Scoble's @scobleizer list of those that he is surprised are not included on Twitter's Suggested Users List. People like Leo Laporte, @leolaporte, Doc Searls @dsearls and Dave Winer @davewiner are not on the list as are lots and lots of others.

But does it really matter? Isn't being pleased to be on the "not on the SUL list" as vain as being on the list itself? When Stephen Fry joined Twitter and the numbers following him went through the roof someone commented that celebrity doesn't scale. My reaction was that the problem was with celebrity - not the scaling.

Does size matter? Does the number of people following you on Twitter, being on the SUL, or even having loads of people read your blog really matter? Isn't it better to have a small number of great friends than hundreds of acquaintances?

Reader Comments (11)

Your quite right that celebrity doesn't scale, sometimes I think that these people must spend all their moments between working on twitter just managing thousands of things or reading the hundreds/thousands of DMs. I think they must actually not 'use' twitter to follow anyone because their feed is full of people talking at them.

To be on the twitter SUL is just one metric of volume not of quality; someone like you, or the other names you quoted, will probably not appeal to @melimia55 from California who is "super motivated artist who know her focus in life :)" or @irresistibal from Indonesia who describes himself as "bitter-sweet dark chocolate". But does it matter when those who are interested find you and then are able to follow your peers to find more people who they can relate to. It is fundamentally about 'social routing' where people can traverse relationships to find further connections.

Arbitrary (often static) lists have their place, but in this organically connected world it isn't about those lists, it is about the imprint we leave with our social web.

Bob

September 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBob H

I completely agree with you, its like the top 100 in media, who gives a shit. Celebrity is connected to the toxic tail end of consumerism in my humble opinion, those that are real thought leaders are focused on achieving specific goals and tasks, unconcerned about whose lists they are in.

Alan

September 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAlan Moore

Agree with you Euan and Bob H, but Alan miaow! Celebrity is as much a brand and communities will dominate where ever they wish. ;-)

September 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTim Harrap

I'm Johnnie, and I'm a (recovering) numberholic.

I think humans love things that have numbers attached as this provides a momentary sense of certainty in an uncertain world. Years ago I dabbled in stocks and shares, and would get excited when I checked daily prices and they were up, and depressed when they were down. After a while, I realised that even the ups were momentary and the whole slightly obsessive thing was sapping a little bit of my spirit.

So I pretty much gave up investing strategies and mostly forget about the shares.

I went through a similar pattern with blogging, in the first year or two I'd excitedly check my stats and alexa almost daily. Then reached the same conclusion: this is daft, doesn't inspire me and doesn't make anything I write better.

So now I basically blog when I feel the urge and don't chase the numbers.

September 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJohnnie Moore

I think it depends on what you are after. Clearly @aplusk has a different motivation for connecting and enabling people to feel connected to him than you do, Euan (and I suspect all of us involved in this conversation). The type and purpose of the interaction is different. The key for me personally is the quality of the conversation and how that is mediated.

For some, especially those whose "conversation" takes place on the meta level because of the character of their fame, one of the few ways it is possible to navigate through the complexity of that scale is through numbers. But if you look, Ashton Kutcher only follows 220 people on Twitter, but has 3,698,374 follwers. So he will undoubtedly have several layers of interaction - the broadcast to his millions as well as a different (perhaps more collaborative) conversation with those he follows.

So the short answer from my perspective? Size matters to those it matters to, but in the end, what you do with it counts more. :D

September 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterErica Packington

I agree with you, chasing numbers shouldn't be the ultimate aim. Twittering is a form of networking, celeb twitterers are using it as just another form of promotion and branding targeted at the twitterrati. Its another marketing vehicle targeting another audience. Real relationships take years to develop.

September 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLilian Barton

bang on Euan. Twitter can sometimes let itself down with examples of mass media thinking that feel really uncomfortable in its niche group forming environment. Trends is another example. I'd like Trends among friends please.

September 28, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterdavidcushman

Agree with you. I was talking yesterday about how it doesn't matter if you have a large following or not. At the end of the day if you are followed by 30 people you are in 30 different networks. If you write something worth retweeting it will get retweeted. Often I retweet but without going back to follow the source. Now get Bright Beehive onto your blogroll ya big scottish @&*£@+*! :-D

September 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCormac Heron

You pick who you follow, or not .. which by definition gives you the power to choose what kind of noise you want to hear, and again by definition to create the 'ambience' you may experience when using Twitter (subject to whatever surprises those you follow may offer up and how much you pay attention to them, or not).

I believe I am on record as suggesting that the eventual use of social networking will (in general) become more ring-fenced (wrt to interest and trust, mainly) when it comes to who and why, although I don't want to suggest that I am completely ignoring the from-time-to-time utility of random sociality.

But I'm a bad example of 2.0-ness. I don't pay attention to stats or visitors or for that matter even the appearance and organization of my online presence (though that's due to change).

I have no interest in how many people follow me or not. I do have a strong interest in the thoughts, experiences, feelings and interests of most (but certainly not all .. too many) of the people I follow.

September 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJon H.

I think for most of the population you're exactly right. But there are people for who numbers do matter. Marketers et al. I don't personally care but there are certainly a lot who do. Notice, I didn't even make Robert's list! Ha!

October 2, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSheryl Breuker

I think about numbers in the "help a non-geek catch up" category. I believe numbers will frighten them. In this case, I promote quality, not quantity. Even to ambitious beginners, I'd say the goal is still quality, not quantity. But that is just me. :)

October 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKaren

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