If A Tree Falls In The Woods And Only One Person Tweets About It…Did It Really Make A Sound?


(Image via Wikipedia Commons)

Steven Johnson commented that Twitter had an ‘unsuspecting depth’ hidden amongst its structure and ‘terrible first impression’ of a dismissable social platform, i tend to agree with the terrible first impression (Johnson, 2009). But Twitter’s unsuspecting depth is definitely not its redeeming quality. Twitter’s miracle in the evolution of news reporting is not only it’s saving grace, but the double edged sword that threatens it’s downfall.

Social media as a news platform enables everything and anything to be reported, with no gatekeepers steadying the flow, to filter it for quality or verity, the flow of information that was once a trickle is now more accurately imaged as a raging torrent bursting its damns.


(image, via Reddit)

Twitter is invaluable as the ‘front line’ reporting for immediate issues or events, but how do we believe a tweet with no legacy media face value, no clear authority behind the declaration in the tweet? A single tweet alone, will be taken with as much consideration of a grain of salt, one tweet shouted into the void that will never be heard. But counted in the masses, the greater volume of tweeting and the more it will be believed. A tweet is the pebble, but seen as a whole it builds a bridge from the sum of its parts and generates value and truth.


Johnson, S. (2009), How Twitter Will Change The Way We Live, Time


7 thoughts on “If A Tree Falls In The Woods And Only One Person Tweets About It…Did It Really Make A Sound?

  1. Nice job, really liked the dam analogy. With such a torrent of information flowing our way you can really see how useful “gatewatchers” would be, as suggested by Bruns. There’s simply so much information at our fingertips that we don’t know what to do with it and it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Without someone else to sift through the avalanche of content for us it seems likely we’d be lost in it all.

  2. This is great! Love the meme. Very similar to what I have been thinking about this week. I totally agree with what you’ve said about Twitter as a “double-edged sword”. There are definitely two sides to this coin – on one hand, Twitter is great for real-time, fast-spreading information, but on the other hand, there is so much information, none of it (or little of it) checked for accuracy, so how do we know if what we are reading is true at all? We go on the assumption that a lot of it is, because everyone is posting about it. But just because everyone is posting about it, does that make it true? As you’ve said, the greater the volume of tweeting the more it will be believed; but if something isn’t true in the first place, where are we left? Value is generated almost from popularity or influence rather than facts. People are more likely to share what they like, even if it means ignoring the facts, which raises concerns about the credibility of news on Twitter. It may seem that there is so much information there, but are we actually getting the full story?

  3. I think the title is the best thing about this post. The writing and meme and gif are good but the title hits home something we’ve probably all experienced. Majority of us on Twitter create very small impressions. We simply add to the bridge one pebble at a time. Holistically this is fine because the overall bridge is built regardless. It’s not very good when you’re trying to attract attention to yourself though. I found an article about tweet impressions, even the best of them don’t mean much for whatever content you might be advertising. Perhaps because of the sheer volume of threads we are less discerning and more lazy than every before? http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2015/02/the-unbearable-lightness-of-tweeting/385484/

  4. hahah! i love the Giff you added about the flow of information, extreemely true!!!! and the metaphor of the tree – very clever.
    Its just an overload of majority of the time S****. But sometimes there’s definitly something valuable within it. You have developed an awesome argument answering it in a simplistic yet in depth way. Its almost quantity over quality, but there’s so much of it, there are small specs of quality within the mass information online. As the web, stores all the information we produce online, value i think can also be added by time. it becomes a tool to show how we have developed and harness this cyberspace.
    Great blog!

  5. This is awesome! I love your meme, and your blog headline was eye catching and drew me in to read more about what you had to say about twitter. I agree with the statement you began with about Twitter having a terrible first impression of a dismissible social platform. Initially I didn’t see the need of Twitter, I felt it didn’t have as much use or access as Facebook or other social media platforms. Interestingly, this week’s topic taught me more about what you mentioned, about gatewatchers standing in for gatekeepers allowing a flow of information. Overall I thought you articulated your point well and I like the analogy you concluded on regarding the pebble and how many pebbles/nodes can create a bridge.

  6. The non existence of gatekeepers on Twitter does initially make it difficult to immediately trust information published presented on the platform however I agree that multiple sources publishing a series of tweets on the same topic can form a trustworthy story. this phenomenon of viewing a series of small, fragmented pieces of news together as a whole story is called ambient journalism. To learn more check out the link below. Its an article by a scholar named Alfred Hermida, one of the creators of the concept of ambient journalism.


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