The Perils of Open Conversation

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Carol A. Spencer

A global police tweet-a-thon is going on right now. (hashtag #poltwt) However, the open and anonymous nature of Twitter is disrupting a thread of highly productive conversation. A hashtag was chosen and it didn’t take long before there were porn and clearly fake police postings popping up.

I’ve participated in more than a few government-oriented Twitter chats and have never experienced the level of disruption being attempted in this case.

Is it because it’s police who are participating? Is this just something we have to put up with in social media? Will the disruptors get tired in a few hours and stop? Is this something we all have to look forward to when we want to use Twitter for an open, productive, information sharing conversation?

I’m hanging in there for now because it’s useful nonetheless. I’ve already downloaded one guide offered for free and have a few ideas from tweets that I’m going to incorporate in my #SMEM classes. If you’re interested, stop by. It’s a 24 hour Tweet-a-thon. You too may pick up some good ideas amid the chatter.

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Dave Hebert

Beyond the obvious and disruptive problem of spam and trolls, we sometimes seem to lose site of the fact that there are limits to the “we are smarter than me” axiom.

While openness can increase the knowledge and productivity of a conversation in phenomenal ways, some people simply don’t know enough about some topics to add substance to a conversation.

I can pontificate all I want about international law or particle physics, but I won’t add a crum of utility to the discussion — I simply don’t know what I’m talking about in those fields.

The balance between openness and expertise can be a tough one to strike, but finding that sweet spot can be the difference between a productive, powerful discussion and a comment wasteland.

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