“What Are You Doing Right Now?”: The Emphasis on the Immediate

Ever feel inclined to actually respond to these prominent prompt questions on Twitter, Facebook, etc? Do you take a moment to tell your followers, friends, or subscribers what you are doing at that exact moment, or possibly where you could be headed; what you’re eating, watching, reading? From the Robert Gehl reading, the single most interesting bit of information provided regarded site owners’ need for immediacy. Web 2.0 has developed in a way that allows users to constantly maintain the upkeep of the flow of information on any given media site. Facebook news feeds, Twitter timelines, and Youtube home pages, simply to name a few are changing at rapid speeds in reference to their provision of content. Every few seconds, someone is posting something new. It satisfies our need to constantly be in the loop of our own social lives. We want the latest, and we also give it, thanks to those aforementioned prompt questions strategically placed so that we participate in the immediate contribution of news.

“What are you doing?” … “What’s happening?” … “What’s on your mind?”

Phatic communication gives us the sense that we are actually talking to someone who is listening, making it easier for us to give information. Pair that with the use of diction and syntax in these prompts–word choices that suggest that we should rapidly and briskly provide this information about our lives, and you have an ever-flowing stream of users’ thoughts and activities compiled, sorted, and refreshed every single minute. Gehl says:

the reality of information is entirely contained in its speed of dissemination… speed is information itself!

Indeed. It is all about speed–speed and consistency. Take Facebook for instance. The latest status update falls directly at the top of a users newsfeed. Gehl describes this as a “privilege” as less recent posts are shoved toward the bottom of the feed. However, recent updates allow revival of old posts to be relevant to current info seekers. Every like and every comment has potential to bring back to life what Gehl 7086905665_1661d554c4_owould probably consider old news. Likes in particular seem to have more value, more power. And believe me, people will try their hardest to get you to like things.

This is a cool feature. It creates ways to encourage long-standing discussions on the site, or for a topic or photo (perhaps even a video or a link) to maintain relevance.

Does this classify as crowdsourcing? In an interesting way, it is almost as if it’s a cardinal right, maybe even a job, for users to now keep the essence of these websites alive. Gehl says that “Web 2.0 sites… have enabled this constant production of content by ceding control over the immediate to the users. They have essentially built empty templates and invited users to fill them in. Due to this practice, users now have unprecedented control over popular trends on the Web,” (1232). This continues to bridge two seemingly mutually exclusive ideas, immediacy and interconnectivity, together perfectly.

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