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Twitter's Focus On Healthy Conversations

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Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter, returned to the Joe Rogan podcast and explained how he's focused on promoting healthier conversations on the platform. He outlined four indicators of a healthy conversation:

1. Shared attention - Is everyone focused on the same thing?

2. Shared reality - Are we sharing the same "facts," whether or not they are actual facts.

3. Receptivity - Are participants receptive to civil debate?

4. Variety of perspective - Are we seeing the full spectrum of any topic under discussion?

I don't think Dorsey has the correct orientation. He begins with the premise that Twitter hosts conversations. It doesn't. A conversation is a talk between two or more people. A webpage full of written posts is not a discussion. It's a message board. Creating guidelines for healthy conversations on Twitter is like creating guidelines for healthy note boards on a talk show. They are two different methods of communication and should not be conflated.

Dorsey talks about "attention," "reality," "receptivity," "perspective." These are all concepts that pertain to in-person dialogues, where the concern for a productive talk is immediate and intimate, within the context of a fixed amount of time available and a limited audience. The concerns on a global message board are very different. You've probably never met the people with whom you're exchanging notes. You don't know how large the audience will be. The message might be left on the Internet forever, and someone might dig it up ten years from now and use it against you.

Dorsey's guidelines represent an orientation toward fantasy. He imagines the user's attention, reality, receptivity, and perspective, things that do not exist on the message board. What exists are the contents of the notes. And the value of a note has nothing to do with Dorsey's ideal conversation. It has to do with the nature of the note and its relation to the particular reader.   

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