Sunday, July 27, 2008

Scaling conversations infinitely still not possible

In almost every medium, in every space, across every generation it would appear that one common trend eventually surfaces.

Conversations don't scale infinitely.

Scaling conversations is achieved through two primary methodologies both of which will eventually degrade the conversation into a monologue, a free-for-all or an asynchronous experience.

In method 1 for scaling conversations, digital and analogue communication devices are utilized together with practical geographic and architectural gathering centres into forums known as meetings. These degrade for a variety of reasons including apathy, empathy, tardiness and even practical reasons such as schedules and task completeness.

In method 2 for scaling conversations each person, being, voice or messenger acts as their own epicentre, gathers bits of information over time and even during the conversation through a variety of means and then scattering, displaying, vocalizing or dispersing this through their various channels. Examples of this include webinars, instant messaging, micro-blogging, marketing and advertising. Feedback, comments, and requests to intervene are achieved in either real time or with some latency and are met with varying degrees of openness depending on the epicentral being. Network and software configuration issues also result in tons of side conversations during the conversation and can often delay or completely destroy the conversation.

As you can see, real-time conversations just don't scale. Sad.

Perhaps this is why Twitter works so well. It gracefully and immediately accepts its asynchronous nature, and its most avid users actually work with this in mind, gathering followers and friends who have their own lists of other followers and friends and randomly participating in hundreds or even thousands of conversations over an extended period of time.

Now the question is, when will Twitter scale? And if and when it does then will my hypothesis herein be proven wrong? Will I finally finish that other post I have been asynchronously writing called "When is this conversation about scaling conversations ever going to end?".


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