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Tim Berners-Lee: Stop Foaming At the Mouth, Twitter

CmdrTaco posted more than 3 years ago | from the hyphenated-last-names dept.

Twitter 307

nk497 writes "Tim Berners-Lee, the creator of the web, has challenged users to improve social networks. He describes Twitter users as 'foaming at the mouth' and unwilling to retweet any update that wasn't offering an extreme opinion. 'How do you design a form of Twitter, how do you change the retweet system, so that Twitter will end up gathering a body of reasoned debate?' he asked. He noted that Facebook-style networks kept users within their existing friend groups, and didn't 'stretch' them to meet new people. Berners-Lee asked how can we 'make use of the web so it connects people together and breaks down barriers more than it builds them up.' Any ideas?"

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Reasoned Debate? (1, Funny)

sycodon (149926) | more than 3 years ago | (#35870772)

" so that Twitter will end up gathering a body of reasoned debate"

In what....180 characters or something like that?

Re:Reasoned Debate? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35870866)

The character limit certainly hinders long, well-thought-out responses. However, I posit that the real problem is social rather than technological. In the US, at least, we as a society have become much more divisive, and no amount of technology is going to reflect differently.

Re:Reasoned Debate? (5, Funny)

spun (1352) | more than 3 years ago | (#35870962)

In the US, at least, we as a society have become much more divisive, and no amount of technology is going to reflect differently.

Fuck you, asshole, who the fuck are you to call us divisive?

Re:Reasoned Debate? (0)

Moryath (553296) | more than 3 years ago | (#35871560)

Ever since the political parties figured out that "rousing the base" is an easier way to win than winning votes from the center, it's been that way.

Well, that and when the Republicans rediscovered "stuffing the ballot box", "vote early vote often", and "keep them brown people outa the polling place" a few years back.

The fact that Republicans have been systematically destroying the education system in the country says a lot about it too. Ever wondered why whenever they come into power, the first thing they do is start firing teachers? Now you know. The less educated someone is, the more likely they are to believe the bread-and-butter kookiness that comes from the Republican noise machine, and the less likely they are to have an attention span capable of remembering that these assholes were saying the exact opposite thing just a couple days ago.

Re:Reasoned Debate? (1)

praxis (19962) | more than 3 years ago | (#35871400)

The character limit certainly hinders long, responses.

Fixed that for you. Thinking thinks through works for short messages too. I'd argue that's when it's even more important.

Re:Reasoned Debate? (5, Insightful)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 3 years ago | (#35871114)

People don't want to be improved. Twitter embraces that. Facebook too.

Re:Reasoned Debate? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35871132)

Right? And we have that already... they're called forums or message boards. As they'd have to be, they're topical. As they'd have to be, they have mechanisms to filter the worthless noise. Participation is voluntary and what you see is up to you.

What problem are we trying to solve here? One where I don't have to listen to some particular actors opinions on vaccinations? Cause really, they can come make their case somewhere where they'll have to write a real argument and suffer the consequences of a poor one.

Re:Reasoned Debate? (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 3 years ago | (#35871156)

Someone refresh my memory on why something like twitter, starting from scratch in the smart phone era is STILL limited to 140 characters.

Originally this was designed to allow tweets to fit inside of SMS messages, but nobody does that anyway. There is no inherent why twitter should have restrictive length limits.

What twitter needs is a vapidity filter.

Re:Reasoned Debate? (2)

bunratty (545641) | more than 3 years ago | (#35871214)

The character limit has nothing to do with it. We can't even get reasoned debate on Slashdot. Every time one "side" of the debate starts looking good, the other side just starts making things up so they don't "lose". People who agree with the "losing" side of the debate mod posts up based simply on whether they says what they agree with, not on the strength of the argument or evidence provided. We see it regularly with debates about patents, copyrights, and global warming. I think even debates about evolution here are modded more on whether they take a traditional scientific or religious approach, rather than the strength of the argument. When people have knee-jerk reactions, agreeing with and liking what they already believe and rejecting what they don't want to believe, you can't have reasoned debate.

Re:Reasoned Debate? (4, Insightful)

CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) | more than 3 years ago | (#35871436)

It's an old internet tradition to take even mundane discussions, like your choice of editor, and turn them into a "holy war." This used to be done quite tongue-in-cheek but they've turned into actual holy wars by kids with a poor grasp of irony and even poorer reasoning skills. You can't debate with a religious fundamentalist who already knows The Truth.

Re:Reasoned Debate? (2)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#35871494)

I think it's quite reasonable to say that a "traditional scientific" approach is to have a strong argument. A "religious approach" is to use wishful thinking and emotions. A lot of people take that approach even outside of religion, so I guess it should just be called the "human approach".

When you try to have any "reasoned debate" with anyone who isn't actually looking for a logical discussion and is just pushing an agenda that they want to be true.. well, there's just no point really. You might as well be talking to a wall.

Re:Reasoned Debate? (2)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 3 years ago | (#35871538)

We can't even get reasoned debate on Slashdot.

I think we can.

In my experience, the moderation system works quite well. I also like that there's no option to delete anyone's comments from the discussion.

You may be confusing the fact that you see comments that you disagree with, or comments that you find outright irrational, with the idea that you have to agree with those comments. On the contrary; you're free to read them, laugh, and disregard them completely.

If seemingly irrational comments get modded to +5, feel free to chime in to differ.

Re:Reasoned Debate? (3, Insightful)

spun (1352) | more than 3 years ago | (#35871548)

Studies show that certainty is an emotion. Emotions are not arrived at through logical processes. People are not certain of what they know because it makes sense, they are certain of what they know because it feels good. Intellectual debate isn't intellectual. It is the same thing chimpanzees do, flinging poop at other chimps they don't like, only we use words.

And obviously, when I say "people" bunratty, I don't mean you or I. I mean those other buffoons, over there. No, not you either, you look smart enough. You know. The ones who disagree with us. Those guys are like chimps flinging poo.

Re:Reasoned Debate? (2)

CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) | more than 3 years ago | (#35871230)

I find that the biggest barrier to a reasoned debate is time rather than space, restrictive though it may be. Everything goes so fast that there is pressure to react sooner rather than later without allowing time for reflection. People then fall back on popular "truths" that can quickly be thrown out there. You can see this on Slashdot too where people pounce on articles to post the established group-think for a quick '+5' (as well as the ubiquitous "frist psots".) Those who come relatively late to the debate will find themselves ignored and drowned out by the deluge of mindless babble. That said it's not like Twitter was meant for actual debate but more for stream of consciousness ego stroking verbal diarrhea. In that respect it is quite successful.

Re:Reasoned Debate? (4, Funny)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 3 years ago | (#35871582)

You can see this on Slashdot too where people pounce on articles to post the established group-think for a quick '+5'

Really? And here I thought posts kvetching about how anybody who agrees with prevailing opinion is just practicing groupthink was an ideal example of Slashdot groupthink.

Re:Reasoned Debate? (1)

mr1911 (1942298) | more than 3 years ago | (#35871302)

Yes, like you just did.

Re:Reasoned Debate? (1)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | more than 3 years ago | (#35871334)

We don't have reasoned debate in public sphere... not at this point in history.

The human race is on an anti-rationalistic downturn. Public "debate" is simply invective and fact is routinely ignored. Twitter simply reflects this.

Re:Reasoned Debate? (2)

Seumas (6865) | more than 3 years ago | (#35871420)

Actually, it's 140 characters.

And Twitter isn't about reasoned debate. Or any debate. Twitter is about self-promotion. Either of your personality or your business. The entire reason for Twitter to exist is attention-whoring. Even people who might have great content to provide include so much self-whoring *noise* to the signal that it's worthless. I've tried following people on Twitter (well, RSS feeds of their Twitter feeds, because I don't want to use Twitter, itself) and even the most interesting people have an intolerable noise level.

Social networks are all about self. All about attention whoring. All about providing an hourly update about your most inane thoughts or every single action you are taking during the day. Using social networking for reasoned debate or discussion is like using a screwdriver to hammer a nail. There are already avenues for debate and discussion and thought. They're in places like Slashdot (no, I didn't type that without chuckling -- I know, I know). They are not in places where you are having 140 character retorts between hundreds of people in a single feed and they are not in sites where a comment is nestled between someone's tarot reading above and pointless "Is it Friday yet?" update below.

Re:Reasoned Debate? (2)

rickb928 (945187) | more than 3 years ago | (#35871422)

Precisely. Twitter is not a tool for debate, reasoned or not. It is a tool for spew.

Re:Reasoned Debate? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35871522)

I vehemently disagree with everything said and everything that will be said in this reply thread. OP is teh Hitlerz. That is all.

it would improve debate (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 3 years ago | (#35871550)

nothing ruins debate like a rambling 5 paragraph diatribe. if a debate is limited to 140 characters, the quality of the debate would improve over endless rants

Well, that's it then! (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 3 years ago | (#35870798)

I am officially out of touch because "How do you design a form of Twitter, how do you change the retweet system, so that Twitter will end up gathering a body of reasoned debate?" made absolutely no sense to me whatsoever. Time to set up the rocking chair on the front porch I guess. Anyone got recommendations for a nice cane I can wave at the kids on my lawn?

Re:Well, that's it then! (2)

ameoba (173803) | more than 3 years ago | (#35871024)

I didn't know twitter was still (or ever really was) relevant outside of "new media" weenies with a perma-hardon for social media.

Re:Well, that's it then! (2)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 3 years ago | (#35871112)

it's nice for aggregation and specific but fast messages, but otherwise 180 characters doesn't make anything truly useful. Twitter going "Anti-spam" and preventing how fast people can post updates has fucked over that whole "specific but fast messages" part, as well as generally twitter being flooded with way more traffic than they can handle.

Re:Well, that's it then! (1)

praxis (19962) | more than 3 years ago | (#35871472)

When NPR has twitter links on their stories I'm not sure one should consider twitter as only for "new media" weenies anymore. Like it or not, it's relevant today. I don't like it; I don't use it; but I'm not going to delude myself and pretend it is not relevant; it's relevant to many people.

Identica (1)

Compaqt (1758360) | more than 3 years ago | (#35871212)

Anybody know if identi.ca [identi.ca] has retweets? (Re-identica's?)

Identica is Linux to Twitter's Windows, by the way.

Re:Well, that's it then! (1)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | more than 3 years ago | (#35871266)

I think it's TBL being out of touch, not you. He's the one who should get up and out of his rocking chair. Or not, I don't really care as I don't really consider him to be a thought leader in social media. He sounds more like a systems guy.

Re:Well, that's it then! (2)

SomePgmr (2021234) | more than 3 years ago | (#35871398)

With all due respect to the man, I think you're more in touch than he is. Twitter is not, and could never be, an appropriate platform for "reasoned debate". That would be contrary to its design, purpose and success.

He's right that Twitter is a shouting point for both banality and extreme statements. It abandons the middleground, because the middleground doesn't fit in 180 characters with a hashtag bandaid for the lack of design towards topics and focus. Nobody retweets reasoned, cautious and boring statements because there's no reason to on a platform that can't "do" conversations.

If you want to have reasoned debate... do it on a forum, or design something new and different that's meant for that. Because Twitter is not that, and users can't "improve" it to be that.

Re:Well, that's it then! (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#35871570)

You can wave your old, textless cell-phone at them.

I stopped reading.... (2)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 3 years ago | (#35870828)

...right at the hyphenated name. It's just a quirk of mine.

Re:I stopped reading.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35870984)

why? is it just tim you ignore or anyone who has a last name that uses different rules to your own?

and why post?

Re:I stopped reading.... (2)

Compaqt (1758360) | more than 3 years ago | (#35871162)

I'm trying to figure out your comment, and whether it was mean sarcastically.

You realize he is the Father of the World-Wide Web, right?

He's basically an advocate for the peer-to-peer web, as opposed to the consumption model that the cable companies want to impose.

Re:I stopped reading.... (1)

praxis (19962) | more than 3 years ago | (#35871512)

I think this world needs more advocates for peer-to-peer communication; hyphenated-name or not.

Re:I stopped reading.... (2)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 3 years ago | (#35871590)

unfortunately i don't think the parent poster read your comment past "You realize he is the Father of the World-"

Re:I stopped reading.... (1, Insightful)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 3 years ago | (#35871380)

Congrats on being a fuckwit.

Re:I stopped reading.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35871554)

See, folks? Right here is someone that fits great on Twitter. Nedlohs lacks the intelligence to post anything more than "congrats on being a fuckwit." and leaves it at that. I looked at your comment history, and you got left at 1 by all your boyfriends on here. Most of your posts are just one liners like this one. You have no friends. It's probably why you're so angry.

Re:I stopped reading.... (3, Funny)

skids (119237) | more than 3 years ago | (#35871482)

My friend Lou Sensteberg-Stein says he slept with your...

Re:I stopped reading.... (4, Funny)

CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) | more than 3 years ago | (#35871518)

Sounds like a bug in your parser, you should upgrade.

Networks (2, Insightful)

Moderator (189749) | more than 3 years ago | (#35870838)

In my opinion, Facebook lost a lot of appeal when it opted to become network-transparent as opposed to a way to meet people who shared similar interests at your university / hometown. The selling point of Facebook over say, Myspace, was that Facebook was geared towards meeting new people at your school (and later in your city) who had similar interests. I met some of my best friends from the university through finding people with shared interests on Facebook six years ago. With my natural introversion, who knows if we would have ever met otherwise. That has been lost as Facebook expanded...now you will find people with similar interests ALL OVER THE WORLD and since there's virtually no chance that you'll ever meet any of these people, there's no reason to reach out to them. Thus it has become a tool for connecting to your own already existing friends-network as opposed to expanding it.

Even the movie pointed it out: the selling point over Friendster/Myspace was that it was based around your local network. That was thrown out the door a long time ago.

Re:Networks (1)

Americano (920576) | more than 3 years ago | (#35871368)

          s/meet/bang/g;

Be honest - you started off on Facebook looking up the cutie from your Freshman Physics class, just like everybody else who joined Facebook when it was focused on networking with people "local" to you, even if you didn't know them personally.

Breaking down barriers ... (4, Interesting)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 3 years ago | (#35870840)

Isn't nearly as easy to do as it is to say. The human race has sought out barriers to erect for as long as humans have been around. Even when people can't see one another physically, they will still seek out people with similar ideas and personality characteristics. You can force them into a large group of vary dissimilar people and in the end you'll find that group will still tend to segregate on some metric you didn't consider before.

I'm not endorsing that kind of action, but it is how we behave as a species.

Re:Breaking down barriers ... (1)

gberke (160126) | more than 3 years ago | (#35871202)

Nicely put... "segregate on some metric"... more than just people, though, that's biology.

Re:Breaking down barriers ... (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 3 years ago | (#35871480)

I think what you said is true, but simply amplifies the need for new approachews such as Berners-Lee is calling for.

I don't like it when people say, "How dare you call me racist! Besides, racism is natural and normal!" Yes, it is natural and normal. That's why it's such a persistent problem throughout history, and why it takes energy to overcome. The same goes for every type of ignorance. All of us tend to be more comfortable with information that reinforces our opinions and self-image, but that's often opposed to being factually correct.

Re:Breaking down barriers ... (3, Insightful)

Americano (920576) | more than 3 years ago | (#35871496)

I'm not endorsing that kind of action, but it is how we behave as a species.

Really, I don't think that the tendency to "tribalize" is as poisonous as many people like to suggest. For instance, there's nothing *wrong* with a group of African, Mexican, Venezuelan, Chinese, Korean, French, etc., immigrants electing to live, work, and associate with one another. They have shared cultures, shared backgrounds, shared languages - these are the things we fashion bonds of friendship from.

The real danger lies in the hardening of attitudes towards people outside your particular grouping that can come along with this tendency to segregate ourselves with like-minded people. Being open to meeting and learning from people outside your group without hostility is the key differentiator. Being *open* to diversity while tending to cluster together into groups with shared interests and values is a far better state of affairs than paying lip service to diversity while shouting down anybody who happens to disagree with or place different values on your tribe's shared values and interests.

Dude, chill (4, Insightful)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#35870858)

Twitter is exactly what you make of it, for those who choose to follow you.

It is exactly not a means for you to procure a distribution network for your opinions, with followers acting as distribution nodes at your behest.

It isn't commanded, it is purely social. Those who wish to retweet your words will do so.

And there are no barriers that you do not introduce yourself. If someone you want to follow is there, you can follow them, even @-reply to them and, if the probabilities and their opinion are willing, get a reply or a retweet from them. (All the better if you aren't begging openly to be retweeted.)

Strong opinions affect a larger number of people. Weak or obvious ones don't induce the need to act. Sounds perfectly social to me.

In other words, if you want the news media, you know where to find it, and how it works.

Re:Dude, chill (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 3 years ago | (#35870898)

Indeed. The problem isn't Twitter, it's the twits on Twitter.

Re:Dude, chill (2)

CycleMan (638982) | more than 3 years ago | (#35870998)

I heard a rumor that YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook were considering a social media merger. The new company would be called YouTwitFace.

Re:Dude, chill (1)

theillien (984847) | more than 3 years ago | (#35871126)

Agreed.

And to add to what you've said, likening Twitter to Facebook isn't very effective. They both may be social networks, but their approaches are different. Twitter already allows the expansion of one's network on the fly based strictly on such things as interests. If someone retweets someone that posted a link to an interesting article you can immediately subscribe to that person's feed. If you later find that you no longer consider that person relevant you simply unsubscribe with no impact.

Facebook, on the other hand, is primarily geared toward connecting you to people that you would interact with normally anyway. Basically, it's just an online circle of friends as opposed to Twitter's online exchange of information and ideas. If you encounter someone that you feel inclined to befriend you do so. However, unlike Twitter, "unfriending" a person carries more social (in the traditional sense) weight. People tend to get upset and confrontational when you do that in Facebook.

This isn't to say that I think Twitter is the be-all-end-all of social networks. You'll find Twitter often falling into the state of just another IRC channel and they're starting to slide in a direction that I'm less inclined to follow (no pun intended) them toward. All things considered, though, it is better for what Tim Berners-Lee thinks it should be than he seems to be giving it credit for.

Um (3, Insightful)

geek (5680) | more than 3 years ago | (#35870872)

Don't like it? Don't read it. No one is forcing little Timmy to read it. I've never had a twitter account or Facebook account and don't intend to. Of course, we could just "pass legislation" so that people can't say things we don't like. I'd rather just not click the fucking things personally.

Slashdot comment system (3, Insightful)

bbasgen (165297) | more than 3 years ago | (#35870896)

The slashdot commenting system is an excellent example of a model towards this solution.

Users will always self-select to what interests them: we can't, and shouldn't, stop that. But taking the example of political news, what we can do with a reasoned comment system like /. is create some semblance of debate -- imperfect and problematic -- but far superior to what we currently see on news websites. The NY Times has done a decent job of this actually. Not a system as good as /., where users have a bit more investment in sticking around and not trolling since modding is done by the community and sticks with you, as opposed to the invisible hand system of the NY Times.

Re:Slashdot comment system (3, Interesting)

inputdev (1252080) | more than 3 years ago | (#35871002)

And it's clearly not keeping users within their existing friend groups, since the number of posters vastly outnumbers the number of friends. :) In all seriousness, I find the comments on slashdot to be at least as informational as the news sources themselves, even if it is only one or two posts out of hundreds, I'm often able to find them, since they are appropriately modded up.

Re:Slashdot comment system (1)

ameoba (173803) | more than 3 years ago | (#35871074)

> I'm often able to find them, since they are appropriately modded up. ...or they parrot the already established group opinion.

Re:Slashdot comment system (1)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 3 years ago | (#35871168)

...or they parrot the already established group opinion.

Is there any more efficient definition of social value?

Re:Slashdot comment system (1)

jmac_the_man (1612215) | more than 3 years ago | (#35871440)

I find the comments on slashdot to be at least as informational as the news sources themselves,

I always find the comments more informative. Of course, I never read the articles.

Men Are Reasoning Rather Than Reasonable Animals (1)

sarku (2047704) | more than 3 years ago | (#35870900)

Sure, teach people how to be reasonable, rather than devoted cultists of the mighty Temple of Opinion. Oh, wait. This is earth. Never mind.

Rock-paper-Scissors (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35870914)

Would anyone like to play a game of Rock Paper Scissors Lizard Spock ?? I need to break out of my barriers...

I ask this a lot, but why? (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 3 years ago | (#35870926)

why does twitter need to be the worlds debate platform in less than 180 characters?

why do I want 15,000 new assholes I don't know from Adam causing me grief on facebook or possibility real life?

why is is SOOO important to be everyone's friend? what does that prove?

Re:I ask this a lot, but why? (1)

mlk (18543) | more than 3 years ago | (#35871234)

why does twitter need to be the worlds debate platform in less than 180 characters?

It has taken over somewhat, but that is because it is used (/known) by Joe Watcher. Stick a link to C4s forum at the bottom of a new broadcast asking for feedback and few will sign up, stick a Twitter hashtag and you already have a pre-built userbase, no local running costs and free advertisements.

why do I want 15,000 new assholes I don't know from Adam causing me grief on facebook or possibility real life?

Why do you think the point of facebook is to collect friends? I've never got the reasoning behind "open networking" on either facebook or Linked In and from what I can see of my (fairly small) friends group on Facebook nor do any of them.

Social networking is a great tool. Just because a common misconception of how it should be used sounds stupid does not mean it actually is stupid.

Ropes Course (1)

Scottingham (2036128) | more than 3 years ago | (#35870950)

Maybe there needs to be one of those 'team building' ropes courses like those found at summer camps...but online.

Some sort of activity where teamwork is required and dividing positions are superfluous to the task at hand. Once friendships are established talking about differing philosophical viewpoints becomes civil and rational. It's only when the 'other side' is viewed as a pack of rabid Palinistas (or Obama kool-aid drinkers) that we lose any hope of decent discourse.

Ya wankers.

Good question (1)

tool462 (677306) | more than 3 years ago | (#35870954)

Much like his earlier creation, I have to assume the answer somehow involved large quantities of free porn...

How do you change human nature? (3, Insightful)

Geekenstein (199041) | more than 3 years ago | (#35870958)

With respect to TBL, he seems to be suggesting censorship. Twitter is designed to allow users to spew whatever arises in their minds, and to retransmit the ideas of others that you believe others should see. Who decides what's "reasoned debate" when it comes down to it?

It's been shown that human nature gravitates towards sensationalism. The craziest of rumors always travel the fastest and the furthest. The free speech model of Twitter, for better or for worse, only amplifies this tendency by making so much easier for it to happen.

Give everyone a soap box, and you get a lot of noise pollution.

Re:How do you change human nature? (2)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 3 years ago | (#35871174)

With respect to TBL, he seems to be suggesting censorship

I can see where one might see that, but I really don't think it's the case. Someone else mentioned that the SMS-like character limit isn't exactly conducive to reasoned debate as opposed to bullet points and sound bites.

As far as I can see, though, the solution would involve addressing that issue, and designing a better class of human. I'm pretty sure only one or less of those will happen in the foreseeable future.

Re:How do you change human nature? (2)

fudoniten (918077) | more than 3 years ago | (#35871396)

Well, for a start, you could redesign the service so it's not just a mini-soapbox for each user...

I see his point, Twitter is designed in such a way that everybody does these little one-way bursts, and the only way to rise above the crowd and gain followers is to be more 'interesting' than everybody else, which will often take the form of being noisier, more outrageous, more controversial, more extreme.

OTOH, that seems to be what people want. I mean, there's already alternatives in existence. I'm talking to you in one now. People want a soapbox.

I think it helps that you don't have to think too hard about a tweet. Reading through a list of tweets every now and then is a lot less mentally taxing than catching up on a mailing list conversation.

There's certainly room for plenty more social network experimentation. The way Twitter and Facebook are designed shapes the conversation. What if you added common forums to Facebook? What if you just doubled the message size in Twitter? It would certainly change the way people used them.

Boy, it sure would be nice to have a free, open-source, distributed [joindiaspora.com] social network, so people could play with things like this more, huh?

Re:How do you change human nature? (1)

fermion (181285) | more than 3 years ago | (#35871588)

Twitter does allow one to break down barriers, and the internet has in general. Flame wars develop because people who ordinarily run in separate camps are put together and they have discussions. I don't think these are unhealthy, it is just that most people don't want the discussions to occur because they don't want to risk that their point of view is wrong. Try to argue with a so-called skeptic something that they believe is wrong. No matter what evidence, they will no change their mind.

In this case we have a person who thinks he knows how things should work. Extreme ideas are bad. Rational ideas, which are the ideas the speaker agrees with, are good. The purpose of debate is to change other peoples minds to meet my expectations. This was the purpose of media through much of written history.

It is not more. A radical person who controls the press can no longer control the ideas. A person who owns radio can still allow people to get on the radio or TV and say that people deserved the natural disaster, say an earthquake or tornado, because they angered god. They can allow a person to say that such disaster victims do not need help because we all pay taxes. They can allow such things to be said, and should be allowed to do such, but then we can tweet, with links to the recording so their can be no claim of 'context', and offer alternative views. And maybe only like minded people hear these views, but that is improvement from the days when all that were heard were the radical view of the elite.

Every time I read something like this I wonder why are they afraid of what people say. The problem has always been that free speech in the press has always been limited to what a few people wanted everyone else to think. If an 11 year old girl got raped by a high school sports star, all the people would hear is how she dressed sexy and was asking for it. Now that message is diluted, if only slightly, by radicals tweeting the radical idea that is never the responsibility of an 11 year old girl to seduce, or not, a 17 year old male twice her size. Such radical ideas lead to unfortunate situations where college boys can no longer get high school girls drunk and rape them, but hey, life is tough, and we all have to give up some perks.

Everything Old is New Again (2)

CycleMan (638982) | more than 3 years ago | (#35870970)

We've heard this lament before: cable TV let the "PBS Liberals" and the "Fox Conservatives" go off in their cliques. Magazine subscriptions do the same thing, as does the telephone and postal mail. Sometimes I hear nostalgia for an earlier time when neighbors knew each other, and discussed the town's affairs in the barbershop and the coffee shop. The downside is that nobody could avoid the town nutcase, and anyone with an unusual opinion or lifestyle or medical condition was outside the mainstream enough to be relatively alone. The answer will not be found in technology itself, but in human motivations: what drives friendship, and common interests? Was there ever a time when politics and debate was conducted civilly?

It wouldn't be Twitter. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35870990)

Shorter version for the TL;DR crowd: "How do you make Twitter work better for the liberal, academic, look-before-you-leap crowd instead of the conservative, judgemental, don't-tread-on-me(-while-I-tread-all-over-you) crowd?"

This is absurd on its face. Very few people can have reasoned debate in a few hundred characters because there's no room to consider alternative views. That's the whole point of Twitter: other viewpoints are not worth the writer's time, since you can just go to someone else to get them.

Easy solution (2)

RedEars (1622495) | more than 3 years ago | (#35871010)

Stop following the idiots on twitter and realize it's NOT a debate forum. It's identical to the most useless form of news: the soundbyte.

Who? (1)

Grindalf (1089511) | more than 3 years ago | (#35871016)

HTML wasn't him! I was a large team of engineers that developed this type of document. Re: "unwilling to retweet any update that wasn't offering an extreme opinion." He's only allowed to add a few users, try different people who are more sensible! Maybe he simply needs new online friends.

So.... (1, Funny)

The End Of Days (1243248) | more than 3 years ago | (#35871026)

He wants to redesign a site he doesn't own to perform tasks it wasn't designed to do...

Tim, buddy, thanks for inventing the web, but to put it indelicately, what the fuck are you talking about?

A hopeless cause (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35871028)

People gather around commonality: religion, race, age, class, afflictions, hobbies. The Internet isn't going to change that. If anything, as he argues, it enables it. I can now feed my interest in purple llamas with people who share that.

Trying to change people's innate behaviour is beyond the abilities of a computer network.

Hmmmm ... (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 3 years ago | (#35871038)

What makes TBL think that most of the people using Twitter or Facebook are interested in reasoned debate? If that's what people were interested in, Twitter would already look like that.

Twitter and Facebook are about sharing your "opinions" and updates with people who largely already agree with you ... you think the people following Rush Limbaugh on Twitter have differing points of view from him? Or that a bunch of angsty 16 year-old kids are looking for 'reasoned debate' or anything more than "going to the mall to buy shoes"?

Hell, even Slashdot has become a place where you can make a reasonable argument, in a reasonable tone, and if someone doesn't agree with your conclusions they'll mark you as a troll -- and where most topics quickly devolve into what more or less is an internet screaming match over which of Mac|Windows|Linux users are the biggest doodie heads.

Look at how public discourse happens in Western Democracies -- do you see a whole lot of reasoned debate there? Or screeching opinions and demonizing of dissenting views? Society isn't interested in it, and they're increasingly incapable of it.

Tim Berners, creator of meh (1)

euroq (1818100) | more than 3 years ago | (#35871062)

I hate it when I see the phrase "inventor of the web", etc. There are so many other people that invented the "Internet" as we know it. All he made a rather sucky protocol, and was just at the right place at the right time. He didn't invent anything related to the way information travels throughout the Internet... he just created a protocol using hypertext with items such as bold (note that he did NOT invent hypertext, either!!!!)

I'm not saying he's a bad guy or did anything bad. What I'm saying is that the credit for the "invention" he made is super, super, super overblown.

Re:Tim Berners, creator of meh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35871182)

Not that I don't agree with your sentiment, but there is a big semantic difference between internet and web. I don't think this is nearly as ridiculous as the Al Gore inventor of the internet type of thing.

Re:Tim Berners, creator of meh (1)

Compaqt (1758360) | more than 3 years ago | (#35871270)

Give the man his due. He was in the right place, but it was he.

And you basically answered your own question. He's not the inventor of the Internet. He's the Father of the World-Wide Web.

And he's an advocate for keeping it that way (a web instead of a one-way tube). He has a lot more credibility speaking for the things many geeks like you and me believe in.

Re:Tim Berners, creator of meh (2)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 3 years ago | (#35871294)

I hate it when I see the phrase "inventor of the web", etc.

Well, in terms of coining the phrase "World Wide Web", and actually creating http, he certainly had an impact.

Prior to him doing this, we had gopher, and ftp, and telnet, and usenet and what have you ... I suspect if you measure the total amount of traffic sent over this "rather sucky" protocol, it likely dwarfs most of the rest of the traffic on the internet by several orders of magnitude. It's hard to ignore how ubiquitous http is.

NCSA Mosaic changed the way everyone saw the internet almost within a year or two -- it went from being the "Internet" to being the WWW very quickly, and suddenly everybody knew what it was. I remember trying to describe the "internet" to people one month, and then having me tell me about the "web" the next (well, not literally, but damned close).

He also founded the W3C [w3.org] . He's much more the inventor of the world-wide web and a widespread hyper-linking technology that anybody else can claim to be. By one hell of a long distance.

Dude, Edison didn't invent the lightbulb, either (1)

tekrat (242117) | more than 3 years ago | (#35871414)

Unfortunately; history gets munged, and the only way to have any kind of context is to simplify things, aka, dumb it down to the average person.

Which is the way *everything* works. You're going to find that that almost everything taught to you in school was as wrong as "inventor of the internet".

Now, you can either accept that everything is wrong and just get on with your day, or you can go around and correct EVERYONE, on every point. Because just about everything is factually incorrect. Good luck being Sheldon Cooper, I've learned that people get tired of being corrected, even though I'm wasting my lunchtime to correct you as well.

Ugh. I've become what I hate. Thanks.

it's called twitter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35871072)

it's called twitter. do you expect anything other than twittering? from twits? I mean it's not like it's called reasoneddebater.

Babel fish? (1)

CloneRanger (122623) | more than 3 years ago | (#35871076)

"Meanwhile, the poor Babel fish, by effectively removing all barriers to communication between different races and cultures, has caused more and bloodier wars than anything else in the history of creation."
— Douglas Adams (The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy)

USENET (4, Interesting)

JoeRandomHacker (983775) | more than 3 years ago | (#35871118)

Anyone interested in designing a peer-to-peer analogue of USENET News?

Real World vs Internet (1)

chicago_scott (458445) | more than 3 years ago | (#35871130)

He noted that Facebook-style networks kept users within their existing friend groups, and didn't 'stretch' them to meet new people. Berners-Lee asked how can we 'make use of the web so it connects people together and breaks down barriers more than it builds them up.'

How is this any different than how people interact in the real world? I usually meet people through existing friends or through activities I participate in. Why does Tim think that the Internet would cause people to behave differently than in real life?

about the only why I've seen the Internet change the way people behave is because the Internet offers a level of anonymity, which causes people to feel more free to state their true opinion, for good or bad. But I'm sure this isn't what Tim means when he talks about breaking down barriers and connecting people together.

no pre-condition for this.. (1)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | more than 3 years ago | (#35871184)

..at least not in the U.S.

To have some sort of rational debate on twitter you have to have rational debate [full stop].

We don't have rational debate at all in the U.S. right now. It's simply one logical fallacy after another which we call debate.

Until we grow up enough to get past our anti-rationalist phase Tim's comment is rather moot.

Twitter improvement? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35871196)

Pull the damned system out by the roots, and then perhaps (perhaps)
actual meaningful social discourse can take place.
    Humans gravitate to the lowest common denominator
in nearly everything, Give a man a chance to post his every brain-fart to the whole world,
- you guarantee an inevitable stench.

We have that dumas. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35871206)

www.reddit.com

Tim Berners-Lee, stop foaming at the mouth! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35871320)

I hereby challenge the users to improve Tim Berners-Lee to stop sprouting nonsense wrt to every stupid 'net fad.

(Disclaimer: I couldn't care less about Twitter and if Facebook dropped dead tomorrow, I think I wouldn't notice (ok: maybe I'd geet a tad less spam, but then maybe not)).

RE: Any Ideas (1)

NEDHead (1651195) | more than 3 years ago | (#35871332)

Yes, We will be going live this summer.

Reasoned Debate (1)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 3 years ago | (#35871338)

"How do you design a form of Twitter, how do you change the retweet system, so that Twitter will end up gathering a body of reasoned debate?"

Might as well ask the Postmaster General how he plans to increase the number of Bigfoots they have as mail carriers.

But Why? (1)

C0C0C0 (688434) | more than 3 years ago | (#35871354)

RE: "Berners-Lee asked how can we 'make use of the web so it connects people together and breaks down barriers more than it builds them up.' Any ideas?"

I like barriers. It's why I have a yard. And headphones.

Trolling (1)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 3 years ago | (#35871358)

Trolling acts as a sort of Internet Eugenics to keep the numbers of freaks and furries down.

As Weev put it

http://conuly.livejournal.com/1445545.html [livejournal.com]

I first met Weev in an online chat room that I visited while staying at Fortuny's house. "I hack, I ruin, I make piles of money," he boasted. "I make people afraid for their lives." On the phone that night, Weev displayed a misanthropy far harsher than Fortuny's. "Trolling is basically Internet eugenics," he said, his voice pitching up like a jet engine on the runway. "I want everyone off the Internet. Bloggers are filth. They need to be destroyed. Blogging gives the illusion of participation to a bunch of retards. We need to put these people in the oven!"

I listened for a few more minutes as Weev held forth on the Federal Reserve and about Jews. Unlike Fortuny, he made no attempt to reconcile his trolling with conventional social norms. Two days later, I flew to Los Angeles and met Weev at a train station in Fullerton, a sleepy bungalow town folded into the vast Orange County grid. He is in his early 20s with full lips, darting eyes and a nest of hair falling back from his temples. He has a way of leaning in as he makes a point, inviting you to share what might or might not be a joke.

As we walked through Fullerton's downtown, Weev told me about his day - he'd lost $10,000 on the commodities market, he claimed - and summarized his philosophy of "global ruin." "We are headed for a Malthusian crisis," he said, with professorial confidence. "Plankton levels are dropping. Bees are dying. There are tortilla riots in Mexico, the highest wheat prices in 30-odd years." He paused. "The question we have to answer is: How do we kill four of the world's six billion people in the most just way possible?" He seemed excited to have said this aloud.

Seems reasonable to me.

this is an ancient debate (2)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 3 years ago | (#35871386)

and Berners-Lee, bless him, is trotting out an archaic idealistic vision that has long since died

the debate, succinctly, is whether the Internet represents

1. a library of philosophers dedicated to erudite passionate commentary on important issues of the day, culminating in a second Enlightenment of intellectual endeavor

2. a bar at 3 AM, busy with drunks full of murderous rage and nonsensical babbling

look at comments on youtube, or under any political blog, or heck, look at encyclopedia dramatica or fark or 4chan: it is clear that Berners-Lee's image of the Internet died in September of 1993

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eternal_September [wikipedia.org]

there's nothing sadder than an old idealist, still believing in a utopian vision that died a long time ago, and will never exist

Anti-idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35871454)

base on the comments I've read so far, which offer a few insightful (read insightful according to me, not modded insightful) comments, but few actual ideas among the rest of the banter, I suggest one place place not to start looking for answers is the ./ reader base, and by extension, since I do think ./ readers are a pretty intelligent crowd compared to the rest of the idiots on the web, one should probably not bother to seek to answers to this question on the web at all.
  I would like to offer one idea though: provide a goal to the community, or a cause or reason of some sort for interacting . Otherwise it seems people will just continue to blow smoke up each other's asses without cause or reason and towards no end like kids hanging out in the park, which is just as well because most social networking sites provide something analogous to a lunchroom, that is a place just to hang out and act without any greater cause, as opposed to a classroom, that is a place where a actions and discussions tend to serve the population to some beneficial end.
  poop.

Internet attracts noise. (3, Insightful)

rpresser (610529) | more than 3 years ago | (#35871464)

Reasonable people tend to NOT FUCKING CARE about internet debate. Instead they concentrate on their lives.

I barely know where to begin! (1)

larwe (858929) | more than 3 years ago | (#35871466)

This guy is smoking cheap crack cut with something very dangerous. The reason people (other than him) aren't clamoring for such features is that no human being wants them. People group together on the basis of common likes, common fears and common hatreds. They don't WANT to read dissenting opinions or engage in cultural diversity. Humans are tribal animals - always have been, and always will be. This is why Internet news is so much more satisfying than a printed newspaper - you only need to see the articles you care about. The only rational reason for this hearts-flowers-and-clasped-hands-around-the-communal-bong "feature" would be to create a market for software that blocks unwanted postings from appearing in your feed/friend list/whatever term for whatever social network we're discussing.

You don't ... (1)

Infernal Device (865066) | more than 3 years ago | (#35871484)

IMO, this is not a technical issue, it's a social issue that cannot be solved thru technical means. Twitter and Facebook are marketed to people who don't have time to create complex, nuanced opinion or the capacity to digest the same. Given that these same people have a degree of anonymity (their followers don't have the time/ability to track down the actual people behind the accounts) they are stuck in a vicious cycle of creating extreme opinions lest they alienate followers.

Additionally, extreme opinions are more "interesting" than complex opinion.

You want reasoned public debate, you have to make users start before they ever lay hands on the keyboard.

Sure, Old Slashcode. (1)

Deliveranc3 (629997) | more than 3 years ago | (#35871486)

Sure old slashcode. Before they broke it Slashcode rewarded successful posters, encouraged a tight knit community, did a good job of formulating the debate (full story) but didn't force it (just reading the summary. Knocked out trolls (-1) forced a decent contribution so people wouldn't join just to post on a hot button issue (+1 Karma Mod).
Most important points were distributed by early users, this has the effect of insulating the community and maintaining it's original focus (news for nerds). It would be even better if we could peruse users past posts based on say Tags. If the search function worked and if they developed a system to allow new comments to be added to old discussions without breaking the thread of the original discussion.

Also the new filtering settings are more complex, I'm not sure why half the posts are shown (not score, not preference [informative, funny, etc]) now.

If you let a Slashdot argument run long enough and encouraged mods to centralize key talking points into a few posts you could get to the heart of the rhetorical debate and start correlating that with facts. (How has the Internet gone on for so long without a central factual database? It could be paid for by taking 10% of the drunken bar bets it resolves :P)

The thing to remember is that arguments are rarely binary, usually there are true and valid arguments on both sides, democracy is helpful because it breaks these down by numbers.

What I still don't understand is arguments that aren't valid, are counter factual, blatantly say they do harm to the larger group and are still supported, like Republicanism.

I mean this with the greatest respect.. (1)

Paracelcus (151056) | more than 3 years ago | (#35871524)

But Mr. Berners-Lee hasn't made it clear weather he sees that 'foaming at the mouth' is just pressing a point that (you) or Mr. Berners-Lee don't agree with.

Recreating Woodstock (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35871530)

I don't want to be too much of a pessimist; but I think it will be difficult to bring people together.

The early Internet seemed to bring people together better than the current one. I think that's because it was a unique time in the development of the 'net. We were all from pre-Internet cultures, and we all had only one thing in common--we were on the 'net.

After a few years, we "sorted ourselves out". It's just like integration. The school I went to had been segregated at some point. It had been integrated for years; but racial separation persisted--voluntarily.

If history were our only guide I'd say that we should create a new network--one so difficult to work with that only a few people would be willing, but at the same time it must offer some compelling feature that would make people be willing to jump through those hoops.

Maybe the Diaspora project is the closest thing; but is the "open source social network" concept going to attract people from different walks of life, or is it just a "Free/OSS/privacy" filter which feeds that culture?

WHY??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35871536)

great fences make even greater neighbors. STAY THE FUCK OUT OF MY FACEBOOK

Very simple solution for Twitter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35871540)

It used to be that you would see *all* tweets from people you follow.

This lead to users seeing parts of other conversations and either joining in, or finding new people to follow.

Instead, you now only see parts of a conversation if you follow the people in the reply.

I used to find new people all the time and could decide whether or not to follow them. Now it's just the same old people all the time.

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