Lifecasting vs. Mindcasting on Twitter

comic1I don’t know how many times of I’ve had this conversation:

ME: Are you on Twitter?

THEM: No. I’m just n0t really interested that some guy I follow is having a tuna sandwich for lunch.

I’ve heard similar comments on podcasts like TWiT and Gillmor Gang from people who are widely viewed as celebrities in the incredibly insular fishbowl that is the social media crowd. (Many of these early deniers have since embraced Twitter and have follower counts that make mine look like a square root).

The usual response – let’s call it Twitter Key Message No. 1 – goes something like this: “Yes, but if you’re talking about what you’re having for lunch, you’re using Twitter in the wrong way. A lot of people use Twitter to just to yak about their tuna sandwich, and that’s okay I guess. But I use Twitter to talk about what I’m thinking or to share interesting blog posts or links.”

The somewhat elitist assumption in Twitter Key Message No. 1  (which I’ve been guilty of spewing from time to time) is that mindcasting is superior to lifecasting. But I no longer agree. Mindcasting is great. Mindcasting is philosophy. Mindcasting will help us resolve the pressing issues of our time like whether Twitter is the new Facebook or Facebook the new Twitter. But lifecasting is our social history. If we could access Tweets from 1,000 years ago, I would be far more interested in learning about how people spent their day (tuna sandwich) than to read endless blather about the latest parchment post.

Even today, the best Twitter posts are often the ones about people’s lives. If you haven’t been there yet, check out favrd, which ranks posts based on how many times they’ve been favourited, after filtering out all inside-the-fishbowl mindcasting (what creator Dean Allencalls the “web-strategy, social-media, online-marketing webcocks – unaware as they are of how toxic their presence is in the arenas they cannot shut up about”).

Here’s a recent example of a Tweet that got high rankings on favrd. This comes from @crispycracka of Atlanta:

Analytics project: It is possible I just messaged my professor & asked if he “wanted my Anal. now or tonight?” Did not think this through.

You don’t get gems like that in mindcasting.

6 Comments

  1. I never really thought about the difference between mindcasting and lifecasting until now, Keith.

    I think it will be interesting to see what the anthropological/historical studies of the future are like when they have our endless mountains of data to go through.

    Also, I love that Dean Allen quote.

    Reply

  2. Lol, best example ever. I’m a fan of doing what I want on Twitter and just having fun with it. What really ticks me off is when people assert what you should be doing with Twitter. Stuff like “You have to provide value” which is fine, but you don’t need to think that way all the time, and even if you don’t do it at all doesn’t mean you fail at Twitter.

    It’s like when those online-marketing web-somethings try to say very pompously that “You have to be ‘viral'”. Its just a huge joke.

    As far as people not on Twitter, if I ask and they say “no”. I just say “OK” and move on.

    Reply

  3. Thanks for such an interesting post. I must admit that I too thought mindcasting was superior to lifecasting on Twitter. However, I never considered the fact lifecasting can be used as an archive to human social behaviour. I now get that eating a tuna sandwich has some significance in the grand scheme of things! (or in the case of cripsycraka, can be entertaining in the least)

    Now that I appreciate the value of lifecasting, perhaps I will do a bit more of it myself. Do you or others have thoughts on keeping Twitter as way to promote your own personal brand? How would potential employers or professional contacts view lifecasting vs mindcasting?

    It will definitely be interesting to see how Twitter and the use of social media evolves and becomes an important part of history. Thanks for shedding the light on a very interesting concept!

    Reply

  4. Melissa – important question about personal brand on Twitter. I believe social media done right requires a blending of personal and professional brands. My favourite Twitterers are those who do both lifecasting and mindcasting – sometimes within the same tweet.

    You’ve made me think about this more and I may write a post on the topic soon. Meantime, Mitch Joel of TwistImage is very smart on personal brand. Check out his blog and podcast if you haven’t already.

    Reply

  5. Great post. I specifically agree with your observation about ‘social marketing webcocks’ (what a great line).

    More often than not their conversations just develop into a giant circle-jerk where everybody tells everybody else just how wonderful they are.

    Having said that, I get an incredible amount of knowledge from twitter. As a barometer of what’s going on in society it’s hard to beat.

    Reply

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