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The 'value' mechanism #12

alvinschang opened this Issue Apr 22, 2014 · 3 comments


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alvinschang commented Apr 22, 2014

Hi Sebastian! I'm one of the co-creators of The Listserve, and I read your slidedeck on The Tweetserve. It's a fascinating idea, and you did a lot of thinking on the concept of parity in networks — far more than we did. We thought a lot about the value in content produced by this mechanism, and how to maximize that value. The metaphor I liked to use was a water balloon. The water is the content that people want to publish on the platform. But the balloon prevents it from reaching a larger network. So the tiny hole we poke in the balloon, which allows content to escape, becomes very valuable.

This may be entirely unhelpful, but it's great to see this taking shape!


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sbenthall commented Apr 22, 2014

Hi Alvin! Thanks for getting in touch! Obviously, I'm super inspired by your work, and it means a lot to me that you've offered your thoughts.

I think it's a great point about the value of content. It's something I've neglected in the current design of this because of the focus on parity. But I think that's the central tension here--between parity and quality. Because of the venue (TtW14) and the time limits the v0.1 is set up to demonstrate the parity aspects.

The Listserve does such a great job at balancing parity and quality. I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on what features are responsible for that.

My guess is that a big part is that The Listserve prompts participants for their special comment. I read a lot of "OMG I can't believe I won!" and so people think beforehand (or not) about the momentous thing they will broadcast.

It's a great model. What I'm trying to do with Tweetserve is translate that more into the real-time public conversation space that Twitter enables to create a public that is contiguous with other publics on Twitter, but with a different physics.

What do you think about the idea of adopting the prompting feature from The Listserve into The Tweetserve? I.e., rather than automatically retweeting somebody, have the Tweetserve ask them a question, and then retweet the answer? Do you think that would raise the value of the content people choose to post to it?


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alvinschang commented Apr 23, 2014

It might be worth looking at this project called "Fame" which we discovered shortly after we started our project. It's a lot like what you're proposing, except it was once a day. (And it was banned by Twitter!)

I think it's great you're approaching this from a parity standpoint. One thing that jumps out at me is that, when you strive for parity, there is eventually a loss of value in content. Because let's face it: Not everyone has something interesting to say at a given time. So the prompting feature is one way to do that, since it's adds a meta story to each tweet. (Kind of like American Idol, where it's not just someone on a stage singing; it's someone who traveled to audition.) Another is to obviously get more followers — which "Fame" managed to do. But even then, you're sending out 360 messages per day! And that drastically cuts down on the amount of attention a piece of content receives.

It looks like you've pinpointed a really interesting issue. At some point, too much parity without enough incentive to give attention to those people gets us back to where we started: A big crowd of people who will only pay attention to the celebrities. So question is... how much can you push parity, while still driving people away from paying attention to these huge central nodes in the network, like the celebrities? One more question: Is it important to you that this is not merit based?

Not sure if this is helpful, but here's a TEDx talk we gave a few weeks ago that touches on some of these things.


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sbenthall commented Apr 30, 2014

Interesting... this is the Fame you're talking about?

And here's the banning rationale...

I think we'll be in the clear because we're not directly manipulating who is followed, just retweeting. We'll see.

Merit is really interesting--the problem with meritocracies is that the question of who decides what counts as merit turns it into an oligarchy or technocracy or something else quickly. Arguably Twitter is already based on 'merit', but the thinking is that that will just reinforce the same structural inequalities.

So for example, I could weight the probability of getting retweeted by number of favstars, but that will bias it in favor of those with a large number of followers. I call this the @Fred_Delicious effect.

Thanks for the video link. I'm watching it now.

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