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Fractal tweets

Complexity theory is a source of fascination for me since I was finishing high-school. Besides the beauty of fractal geometry, what grabbed me about complexity was the notion that something radically new can emerge from the normal, everyday interaction. I believe that the web is enabling human interaction in a way that patterning and emergence are becoming increasingly obvious.

One example: Twitter, already mentioned in the previous post. It was created as a microblogging platform: one has 140 characters to answer the "what are you doing?" question. Pretty simple? Sure. But then one chooses who to follow (like subscribing to a RSS feed). Them people you follow may follow you, especially if they know you. You see who they reply to, so your community grows and a group emerges. Then software companies and politicians (Barack Obama, for instance) started using it to keep a direct connection with their users or voters beyond traditional broadcast. Using Twitter's open API platform, software developers started making (and selling) apps to improve the usability and connect it to other services. Usage grows and Twitter gains more and more followers as new patterns keep on emerging, without a blueprint or a plan.

This is what the “web 2.0” really is about. After finishing reading Don Tapscott's latest book (Grown Up Digital), I believe that something quite fundamental is happening: a new generation of people (the Net Geners, up to thirty-something) are using technology in different way because they're free from the hype: technology for them is like air, they don't pay too much attention to it, they just use it!

Update - After publishing this post, I came across some interesting opinions on Twitter:
Why Tim O'Reilly loves Twitter
Diogo Vasconcelos’ list of nice Twitter tools
Twitter as a platform for e-government