Microblogging: Making improbable Communication probable

Why is Twitter, or rather the microblogging-principle, so successful in corporations?

Everybody speaks about Twitter, even with respect to communication within firms. Products like Yammer or Communote, that serve for professional microblogging within organisations and corporations, show that there is a demand. The newest collaboration suites start to implement microblogging functionality, too.

In order to get a satisfying answer to the question, why the communication principle of microblogging is successful we should look to some principles of human communication. I start with the following question: Why is communication very often improbable? And I will connect it with microblogging: How can microblogging help to cope with this issue?

This is a translation of my German blogpost from 18th May 2009

What is ‘improbable communication’?

Niklas Luhmann, probably Germany’s most important contemporary sociologist (died in 1998), stated that communication is improbable per se (in Soziologische Aufklärung III, 1981,  p.31). This, however, seems to be a contradiction to Paul Watzlawick’s famous sermon “It is not possible to not communicate”.

For Watzlawick each kind of behaviour is communication, i.e. it consists of sending some messages that can be observed by others. Try, for example, being in an elevator with somebody foreign and not to communicate. You will not be lucky because everything you are doing will send some signals that are ready for interpretation by the other.

However, Luhmann does not mean this kind of communication as it is a very broad definition of communication and, important for us in terms of digital social media, because it means physical presence. I, however, want to talk about physical absence, which is typical for microblogging. (weiterlesen…)

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