The guy who literally invented the World Wide Web is somewhat troubled by the crude level of discourse found on microblogging site Twitter.
Addressing a recent W3C conference in Oxford, England, Sir Tim Berners-Lee lamented the anger and ignorance he has routinely witnessed on Twitter.
(Also see: Twitter put on double-secret FTC probation)
PCpro.co.uk's Nicole Kobie reports that Berners-Lee described his experiences early this year monitoring tweets that included the world "neutrality" as the U.S. Federal Communications Commission was deciding the fate of net neutrality:
”Watching the Twitter stream go by, I noticed what people said — people who understood what it [net neutrality] was and people who didn’t understand what it was — all of the tweets were extreme,” Berners-Lee claimed.“They were just foaming at the mouth, frustrated with how stupid President Obama was that he didn’t do complete net neutrality, or foaming at the mouth at how stupid President Obama was because he was sneaking this net neutrality thing in to take control of the internet before the next election so that he could win. They were all foaming at the mouth, furious.”
Foaming at the mouth? Furious? Let's hope our knighted friend never stumbles upon a birther website! He might try to single-handedly dismantle his invention and have us go back to carving on marble tablets!
To be sure, there were some sane, rational tweets, Berners-Lee told attendees. But he noticed none of them were being retweeted. His theory: "One possibility is that Twitter, in that case, is a medium which was only amplifying the emotionally charged."
That's certainly a mild way of putting it.
Berners-Lee then asked W3C attendees, in what can only be a rhetorical question, "How do you design a form of Twitter, how do you change the retweet system, so that Twitter will end up gathering a body of reasoned debate?"
Other than requiring tweeting licenses, Sir Tim, you can't. You'll just have to live with one of the unfortunate results of your otherwise excellent invention. Just like the rest of us.