Had a blast chatting with danah boyd this morning on this week's SupernovaHub Network Age Briefing (disclosure: Supernova is a client). The link above is to a rebroadcast of the call, which ran about an hour and covered "Class and Connection in the Network Age." We also had some great conversation with @nwjerseyliz and @evanwolf the others who joined live in the conversation.
One of the big "a ha" moments in talking to danah was the fact that, as has been noted in many other places, we typically hang out (more-or-less) with "people like us" online, as well as offline. However, Twitter's "Trending Topics" are a bridge to the other neighborhoods, a bridge to the "not-like-me."
As you can see in the sketch above, the "people like me" are typically talking about technology and business oriented things, not surprisingly…things like "Google Wave, CRM, VRM" and so forth. But if you look at the Trending Topics, from my neighborhood of connections, perhaps only one of those (let's say "Google Wave") might have enough oomph to make it onto the Trending Topics list.
Other neighborhoods have other interests…online gaming, fashion, celebrity gossip, politics, TV shows and the like.
When we see these other topics bubble up, what we're seeing is a surfacing of the other groups that are in the network; we are seeing patterns made visible.
The take-away: Even though your Twitter and Facebook networks may make it seem like "a lot" of the people online are "just like you," that's not necessarily the case.
As more and more individuals come online, and especially as mobile and smartphones really start to hit critical mass and broader adoption worldwide, this visibility into these other neighborhoods will only become more pronounced.