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7 Degrees of Attention

In twitter, you don’t have friends. You have followers and people you follow. These are very much one-way arrows, compared with the facebook approach. Just because I see your tweets does not mean you choose to read mine (@cgutteridge should you wish to).

Today someone named @stuartbrown tweeted “anyone out there got info / point to info on RDF support in EPrints 3.2.1?”. I might have met him in the past, but I certainly don’t follow him, but my friend @psychemedia does, and so retweeted “RT @stuartbrown: anyone out there got info / point to info on RDF support in EPrints 3.2.1? #dev8d @cgutteridge” which drew it my attention and got him an answer in less than 40 minutes.

There’s often been talk of 6 degrees of separation and Bacon numbers and such, but these are very flimsy connections. foaf:knows style connections. It just indicates some basic connection between the two people. What today’s communication required was a chain of attention. @stuartbrown < @psychemedia < @cgutteridge. I’m wondering how hard it would be to work out the shortest chain of attention between two twitter users. What’s the shortest number of RT’s required to get my text to be read by decision maker X?

It’s not as painful as it sounds as “follows” lists are always much shorter. @nathanfillion may have 0.5 MegaFollowers, but only follows 91 people. However 2 hops is still around 10,000 users so would probably start to hit the API limits.

Of course, you could just mention them and they (may) see it anyway, but I was thinking more about how far your voice is from influencing decision makers via a channel they pay attention to.

Posted in twitter.

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