Are Status Updates Conversations?

I’ve had this link in my “drafts” box for too long, so I want to drag it out and blog it because it raises an important issue. What happens when we trivialize the concepts of “friends,” “conversation” and “community” when we apply them to things that are sort of like friends, conversation and community, but don’t quite cross the threshold. In this image from a recent Forrester blog post, they have added to their original “ladder of participation” (which I find useful, but I cringe at the linearity because I don’t think it is always sequential as shown). What they added was Tweets categorized as conversation. Take a look.


Yes, you can have a conversation in Twitter, but I think most Twitter traffic is not conversation. It is a flow of snippets, of 140 character fragments which we can, if we wish, make sense of. We can construct a narrative, but we may not be constructing the intended narrative.

Conversation implies for me turn taking, listening and sensemaking. Status updates… not so much. What do you think?

Related: The Conversation Prism

4 thoughts on “Are Status Updates Conversations?”

  1. Nancy

    I prefer the wheel as you have it depicted over a linear ladder as well. When people join in a conversation it is, as you say, a give and take. I do not see the opportunity to have as deep of a conversation when using social media as when people are in direct communication with one another. I think this is an evolutionary process with social media. In the future I can foresee new tools for true interactivity with the sort of give and take you talk about.

    Ric Franzi

  2. Ric, thanks for chiming in. Can you say more about why you don’t think people have the opportunity for having as deep a conversation as F2F? I’d like to hear your experience, because I have had a lot of diverse experiences that cause me to think twice about it.

  3. Hi Nancy!

    I think like you that not all things called “conversations” are conversation. And I am afraid that there are tecnologies, like tweeter or facebook, that since they are facilitating more short messages, they promote ways of comunication less articulated and dialogical. There are no problem with this tecnologies per se, but we must to be aware of the effect that this may cause in our forms of think about conversations and the impact that this can have in these.

    Sorry about my english!:)

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