New communication filters

Twitter is planning to replicate parts of its India election strategy across countries that go to polls this year, after it emerged as a key tool for politicians and media companies during the world’s largest democratic exercise…the company has started looking for partners to replicate their ‘Tweet To Remember’ feature used in India, which enables users to add the voting date automatically to their mobile calendar using a tweet.

The arrival of Twitter as a mainstream communications channel for politicians is hardly news, but this Reuters article highlights two other points of interest to those tasked with designing digital experiences.

Firstly, the benefits of learning from new markets and ensuring new customers join the ongoing loop of user research and product iteration. Twitter may have started as a plaything of the tech-obsessed in developed economies, but to have global significance it must, by definition, evolve to support a diverse set of user needs. Twitter seems conscious the flow of innovation should be a two-way thing and, unlike the patronising, one-way ‘localisation’ strategies often adopted by digital companies, it is bringing features developed abroad back to its home market.

Secondly, it demonstrates how communication platforms are shaping conversations after the words have been spoken. Hitherto, most personal communications have given users control of both the content and the medium. For instance, if you write someone a letter, that letter arrives with exactly the words you wrote, in exactly the form you wrote them. The same is true of voice calling. Features like Twitter’s ‘Tweet To Remember’ and how it chooses to notify users of retweets, favourites and who to follow, all point to an interventionist form of communication, where a user’s words may be given new meaning by the actions of the platform.

James Haliburton, CEO of Topp, spoke of this at MEX14, where he talked about how: “Human awareness of communication is reducing in two ways. Firstly, awareness of representation, e.g. service platforms like Twitter can subtly adjust the way in which our communications are delivered. Also, as the quantity of communication grows, awareness of its occurrence is reduced: machines may be talking without our knowledge.”

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