my twitter analogy: twarbucks


What’s twitter like? It’s like you’re sitting by yourself in a coffee shop, surrounded by a community of people.
The role of 17th century coffee shops in creating a civic space and a commensurate sense of ‘public opinion’, and the importance of that for the growth of democracy, has been discussed by historians…” [1]

Twitter is the virtual coffee shop.
  • all around you, conversations
  • snippets reach your ears
  • you can sip slowly or drink it all in quickly
  • sometimes you focus your listening on an interesting snippet
  • sometimes you lean over and add a comment
  • sometimes the noise is too much and you tune out
  • sometimes you make new friends because you contributed to the verbal comm
  • though you may be sitting there “alone” with your laptop getting work done, you’re not alone
  • being there is refreshing, a buzz, a lift in your day
  • if you say something interesting, it will get passed on for the enjoyment of others there
  • you can linger and enjoy the social networking, or you can leave
  • you can be productive while still catching snippets
  • you can stay aloof or participate
  • you’re in touch with familiar strangers
  • you can be & feel anonymous or introduce yourself to any/all
  • you can trust and be trusted, respect and be respected, support and be supported
  • the longer you visit, the more at home you feel
  • the more you participate, the more you become part of the community
  • it quickly becomes part of your daily routine
  • it can get addictive
  • if you’re too busy to go there, it will wait for you. Patiently, too. Absences don’t count; presence is all that’s recorded.
Substitute “twitter” for “coffee shops” in the following (and in any description of a coffee shop).
“Coffee shops, as meeting places, foster the spread of information. This occurs informally, as an inevitable result of gossip and socialising. …As information passes through a social network, which no individual has a complete map of, so coffee shops become part of a system of distributed cognition…” [1]

“Because of its great acceptance in English society, by 1670 there was hardly a street in London without a coffee house. …it became a popular social gathering spot, many of the intellectuals and literati of that era gathered in coffee houses.” [2]

“…coffee houses…served as places for vital communication….Those more interested in radical politics would gather at the Cromwell coffee house and talk of revolution. …Not all talk in the coffee houses were political. …London merchants often spent the day there conducting their business and exchanging news about commerce”. [2]

1: Tom Stafford. Psychology in the coffee shop. July 2003. Retrieved March 4/09 from
2: P. J. Gladnick. Defining intellectual ferment in coffee house culture. 2002. Retrieved on March 4/09 from


8 thoughts on “my twitter analogy: twarbucks

  1. But it lacks human contact. All signs point to a return to "real" community living. I think the point is that the humanity is missing, and humanity is missing the point.


  2. This is the perpetual debate, isn’t it. And the most common reaction from people who don’t live online as much. I do understand the "human contact" rejoinder. but my experience (and this may be true for others who are socially painfully shy) is that I would never, Ever, EVER meet and get to know this many people in "real" community interaction. I tend to avoid, walk away, and certainly not reach out to strangers in a coffee shop. Not ever! Online, though, I’m open and friendly and this global, extensive, HUMAN contact enriches my life. Tons of humanity! in a very rich experience. I’m part of a hugh community, truly.


  3. Right. But I’m not talking about "reading about" my online connections, I’m talking about actually connecting with them. Lots. Often. Rich conversations.AND… online comms with my adult children almost daily (and with nephew in Sweden 🙂 sure beats waiting for occasional human contact. I get WAY more contact with my peeps online than other people who "don’t believe" or don’t come here just because they think it’s not human contact.


  4. All right, I digress. I just feel that the human element is slowly being removed ie. live customer service, banking, WallMart . . .The Matrix is real.


  5. All right, I digress. I just feel that the human element is fading ie. live customer service, WallMart, banking. . ."The answer is out there, Kate, and it’s looking for you, and it will find you if you want it to." The Matrix.


  6. You’re right, of course. Strangely enuff, I don’t mind all that. I tend to roll with whatever develops. That’s prob. why I’m more techno-savvy than my age-peers. To be facetious about your matrix quote… If answers come to me, yay! I can spend less time seeking. More time in receive mode. Enjoying that already as a lifestyle. Really!


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