Like a lot of people, I imagine, I had trouble sorting out the many implications of the announcement two days ago by Google that they would be acquiring Motorola Mobility. My point in this article is NOT to talk about that deal, as interesting as it is. Instead, this article is a “meta-view” of the story — Looking not at the content of the story itself, but at the process I went through in learning about it.
My first stop in looking for commentary about the Google-Motorola deal was Google News. That certainly had a lot, but the traditional journalistic articles covered there lack the nimbleness of new media sources — blogs and tweets — that are so valuable in covering fast-moving stories like this one.
Turning then to Twitter, searching on Topsy, I had much more success in teasing out the many issues that are involved in the Google-Motorola deal. The main stated reason given by Google for the acquisition is control of patents. This is certainly important, but there are many other factors that quickly become evident in looking at the Twitter stream — The sheer size of the acquisition, for one, but also the implications for Android, Apple, and the whole future of mobile. And personality comes into play, with speculations about how new CEO Larry Page seems to be shaking things up at Google. The screenshot below, of a few tweets in a Topsy search the day after the deal was announced, gives some idea of how the Twitter stream makes it easy to get an idea of the many issues involved.
The idea I want to stress here is that Twitter’s simple interface, paradoxically, makes it an excellent vehicle to present complex ideas. Taking advantage of the collective intelligence contained in a group 140-character tweets is a quick and efficient way to see the many facets of a complicated story. A recent comparison of Twitter and Google Plus brings out a related aspect of Twitter that makes it so useful for cutting through complexity: Information density — A stream of tweets like those in the screenshot below is heavily-laden with information-nuggets — Article titles and subtle spin-words added by tweeters that help see the complex pattern.
In conclusion, connecting the discussion above with Neal Gabler’s recent Blame-the-Intenet commentary — Gabler hits on Twitter as an example of how the Internet keeps us from thinking about Big Ideas. Considering how well Twitter does in bringing out multi-faceted views on a complicated subject, as shown here, I’d beg to differ — Google-Motorola is certainly not the sort of “big idea” that Gabler is talking about, but I think the power of Twitter to cut through complicated ideas to give a quick “meta-view” can be extended also to discussions of Gabler’s Big Ideas.
Eric Rumsey is at: eric-rumsey AttSign uiowa dott edu and on Twitter @ericrumsey