The Game of Twitter 06152011 ny times

The Game of Twitter 06152011 ny times - The Game of Twitter...

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The Game of Twitter By VIRGINIA HEFFERNAN For a Generation Xer born 34 years before Google, Anthony Weiner seemed to have a younger man’s knack for Internet culture. In merely 20 months using Twitter , the virtual social club that now has more than 200 million participants, Weiner managed to interest some 77,000 people in subscribing to his dispatches, jokes and provocations on topics ranging from hockey to finance to Israel’s borders. Weiner, whose trafficking in vulgar online communiqués may have ruined his political career, may not deserve to stay married. But he should not be pilloried forever. He was a skilled and even advanced Twitter player, whose politics and erotic life, like those of so many Americans under 40, were centered in digital culture. At a time when political analysts like James Carville, who said recently on CNN that he’d never seen Twitter , flaunt their ignorance of the Internet, we need more thoroughly digital minds — even if, like all minds, they periodically turn dirty — in public life. Heavy users of Twitter, as Weiner used to be (he hasn’t posted since June 1), play a complicated strategy game. Like World of Warcraft and Halo, Twitter is a massively multiplayer online role- playing game, but with higher real-world stakes. It is grounded in the first principles of game theory, including variations on the Prisoner’s Dilemma. You have to give to get; you have to get to give. Managing these ratios — deciding how much of your attention to expend to win attention to yourself, say — is the lion’s share of the Twitter action. Players of Twitter risk their reputations, their careers and their relationships. But incentives to keep playing Twitter abound, too, as Weiner discovered. Twitter can burnish reputations, as it did for Weiner when he broke news; gave fast, fresh takes; and used links inventively. It can
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