Simon Fowler's Blog

rLiving Day 1: Tweeting to Speaking [Directness]

Posted by Simon on April 30, 2010

I follow 399 people on Twitter and I’m being followed by 366 (as of today). One followee/follower is @odguru, as I knew her for a few weeks. Then I clicked on her profile and found out that she’s Christy Pettit and that ‘od’ in odguru is Organizational Development (and ODscore is her company: Where social networking meets systems thinking). Along with a lot of other people, we crossed paths during a weekly tweet chat, #lrnchat, about all things learning. And today we spoke on the phone!

Our connection up until today was a few mutual retweets and responses during those weekly 90 minutes. Then Christy said something in a public tweet to me, right at the end of yesterday’s session that particularly piqued my interest. So I sent a DM (Direct Message) to her:

The subsequent phone call from Christy today changed, or maybe even created, a relationship.

Relational Proximity Dimension #1 is “Directness”. My relationship with someone is better and healthier the less mediated it is. It can be mediated by technology or other people: these reduce our ability to communicate fully. It can also be mediated, even when face to face, by dishonesty and fakeness: there’s a real me and a real you, any fronts we put up reduces directness.

Today my relationship with Christy grew significantly because we went from tweeting, and not very often at that, to speaking on the phone. The directness of voice-to-voice – hearing the multi-dimensionality of her voice, her tone, her enthusiasm – made her more of a person in my life than before. I’d say, in fact, that before today there was no relationship. I only knew a few of @odguru’s thoughts and ideas (140 char at a time). I knew from the content that she was very smart and experienced. And I appreciated when she RT’d or responded to my tweets. But now I can say I know Christy Pettit. A teeny bit, anyway. And I’m delighted to know her! We had a really interesting and engaging conversation:

Our relationship also increased in Multiplexity (Dimension #3, which is esentially is about knowledge) because we connected in a different context from #lrnchat, and talked about more than just the #lrnchat question.

This may all seem a little dry and even obvious, but think about any relationship you have, and how “direct” it is, then consider if the lack of directness explains the nature of the relationship, good or bad.

[Note: The context or purpose (Dimension #5) of a relationship will determine to what extent increased directness is necessary or desired. With the 399 people I’m following I can’t possibly, and don’t want, unmediated with them all! But even so, the growth of any ‘relationship’ is constrained to the degree it is mediated.]

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