Creatures of Information


Penelope Trunk - blog domo at Brazen Careerist

We walk the corridors, searching the shelves and rearranging them, looking for lines of meaning amid leagues of cacophony and incoherence, reading the history of the past and of the future, collecting our thoughts and collecting the thoughts of others, and every so often glimpsing mirrors, in which we may recognize creatures of the information. Jorge Luis Borges The Library of Babel


[ResponseIS Tweeting Better Than Blogging?] I’ve had to think about the social ‘net as a marketing opportunity for my job. I approached this by going out and sifting through the resources about current best practices. Because I’ve long be a skimmer of the marketing world as it is situated by the internet, I have also long known the most basic, challenge is making it possible for your customers to both: find your content, and, spend a quality moment with ‘it.’

That said customer might proceed to a trial–marketing lingo for doing something that you the provider knows he or she is doing–is almost the frosting on the cake of nailing down steps one and two.

Find and capture (attention.)

When I peruse the google analytics for ND2.0 or any of my own productions, I am impressed and dismayed in equal parts by their suggestive qualification of user behavior. They found us, and they spent an average of 2:02 minutes with us. (The realization of a trial here would be a comment.)

Awash in information, yet, somewhere in this ocean is content which may be found if time is invested. Stepping back from this opaque generality, is a slightly more refined generality: an individual invests time in a manner distinctive to him or her, is motivated by an overt or tacit goal, and, his or her’s success requires a successful act of retrieval and selection.

To give this description a finer grain, we would need to know something more detailed about the conjunction of: goals, time, tool, manner/regimen, medium, media, (and more.)

In this there would arise the positive question. For example, what characterizes the user most likely to read content of some specific length? There could be all sorts of ways to break down the previously mentioned descriptive elements.

Of course I am in possession of my own subject, myself. (Netdynamics was partly rooted in reflexive accounts.) I have a good idea about that which comprises the array of my own goals, what kinds of content focus both my time and attention, and, I also have a fairly rich terminology for establishing the baseline description concerned with characterizing what kind/type/disposition I possess.

If I integrate a rough and approximate sense of goal directed search-and-retrieval with this kind of baseline description, and, I then scale this conceptually to include all persons who could be differentiated in this way, I can then blast this downward to questions about Twitter and blogosphere. I reckon the devil would be in the details betwixt, for example, two extremes. One extreme is the person who meets their goals by exclusively spending not more than two minutes with any section of content, and, another person who only uses the internet to retrieve long-form content.

Following through with this sketch it seems we land in the interdisciplinary flux of psychology, anthropology, sociology, and, information science.

From this, there could be a folksy supposition: there are those users who are tend to express attention deficit disorder. This user’s time is easily waylaid. What would a causal hypothesis be once we establish that some users operate like this?


ND2.0’s two-to-four hundred visits per month are somewhere on the continuum of quantifiable responsive agency and activity. Our blog is more active than all the dead and lesser blogs. We haven’t invested the time to elevate its activity, yet the default is not completely shabby at all. Yet, we’re not aiming to address the complex problem of how to make our content retrievable, vital, and, incidentally, formulate its distribution in ways which match the various ways users deploy to meet their goals.


In three different feedreaders I have subscribed to a total of over 2,000 blogs. I keyword search through the blogs using the RSS client. Another way to look at this is that I have created a subset of blogs and severely limited the base data set. This would be contrasted with searching via Google. In the case of using Google, I am looking through a humongous data set, but, I also have to invest the time in wading through the false positives. My experience is that there’s lots of gold deep in the pages of a Google search, yet the time investment is often too much.

I don’t know what the actual figures are, however, for argument’s sake, say I spend 25% of my time ‘after retrieval,’ on average, using up 5 minutes per retrieved item. This is a somewhat complicated vector, right? This includes the twenty to sixty minutes–or so–I might spend reading a journal article or long magazine article. The other side of this measure is that I spend 25% of my time using time at the rate of less than five minutes per retrieved item. Leaving the 50% I require to search and retrieve.

(No matter what the actual distribution of time is, it shifts were I to drop out, so-to-speak, “off screen,” dealing with content I print out, or listen to.)


One last observation; when I look at my Twitter stream ( and or at blogs, I’m impressed by the implicit time investment of other users. And, I can make distinctions, such as the difference between Twitter users who are mostly scattering links, and, Twitter users who mostly are interacting with each other. Likewise, on blogs, I’m fascinated by comment threads. Not for their content, but because of their group relations and social-psychological context.

I’m very impressed by the blog Crooked Timber, where something like three dozen people are expressing (day in and day out,) deeply thought responses to sophisticated thinking.

There are many extremely successful blogs produced by a single person. Take for example Brazen Careeristfrom Penelope Trunk. It gets hundreds of thousands of hits per month.

A blog requires users who possess the right combination of traits, motivation, goals–as long as the blog is oriented to users. Obviously, there is the other side of the equation: those who develop and produce and distribute content for users.

As for Twitter, comments will follow. I will say this: it’s not well matched with my disposition. I prefer to manage serendipity rather than simply be subjected to it!

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