Newsweek‘s Technology Section has an article called “Twitter, Unmasked: Who is really writing all those Tweets? Professional microbloggers.” This article underscores the importance of looking at new media with an open-mind. Too many people I know, when faced with media that is not indigenous to their technological coming of age, spend way too long explaining why something isn’t important (or worse, is dangerous) without trying to their outside their initial reaction and looking to see how the technology is being used and experienced. As a media psychologist, I’m kind of fixated on that experience thing.
Piles of psychological research shows that humans are social animals that need to be connected to others, and, among other things, that interpersonal connections are essential for mental and physical health, and that different people have different connection styles. A lot of people fretted and tried to prove that Web 2.0 technology was going to isolate people and deprive them of their social skill repertoire. With interpersonal connections such a big theme in human lives, why are so many people surprised to find out that social networks, like Twitter and Facebook, become real connections, even 140 characters at a time? These social connections have enormous impact on how information is passed along and how trust and credibility is established, but by entirely new routes and rules. The Newsweek article says:
While some microbloggers are who they say they are, plenty of celeb feeds (Ryan Seacrest’s, U.K. Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s, Barack Obama’s) are actually being penned by folks like the one Spears sought out. And the skills she required—experience launching online communities, addiction to MySpace and Facebook, graphic design experience, and a love for “creating relationships”—are the same ones companies need as they venture onto Twitter. That explains why, on the corporate side, business are relying on in-house publicists, marketing managers and new professional blogging firms like Twit4hire to helm their accounts.
The article excerpt show how how professions will emerge in response to technological innovation. (Twit4Hire may be the best name of all time.) Parents need to embrace the idea that when kids say they don’t know what they want to be when they grow up, they mean it; they don’t even know what the choices will be.