Inward Facing

inward Looking
Originally uploaded by Stephen Downes
A technology like Twitter is, in my mind, 'inwards-facing', because it reinforces communication with the group - 'running with the herd,' as I commented on Noon's post, while I tend to favour 'outwards-facing' communications, those that look outside the group.


  1. Thought it's inward-facing, I think that it's still a quite valuable too. Inward-facing and outward-facing tools serve different purposes but are equally useful in professional development. Outward-facing tools let you stretch, while inward-facing tools give you support.

  2. I agree, especially related to (flesh and bones) people.

    BUT, I guess there might be some other uses really outward facing.

    Check, for instance, this:

    Quite 'outwards-facing', isn't it?

  3. My response - over on my post - was/is: "Whether we “run with the herd,” or “go with the flow,” seems a small difference to me. I can’t legitimately comment on something I don’t know anything about."

    I agree with you completely about the group orientation. I've been hearing people talk about Twitter, now, for months. And I have been resistant because I don't feel like I ever "fit" into any group. And I still don't. It seems to me that what's important is not whether we are members of groups (because that may be unavoidable). What matters is how we position ourselves within groups, the amount of attention we devote to them, and the degree to which we allow our thinking to be influence by certain members of the group.

    Here's my question, prompted by your comment: Aren't inward and outward attention (from a group) both necessary?

  4. Stephen, I agree with the inward/outfacing descriptions, but Twitter isn't an _exclusive_ inward-facing tool - it's very easy to join in.

    One thing that I like about the inward-facing twitter community is that it's possible to pick up a conversation in ways that's difficult in the outward-facing tools like blogs etc... Some of it might have to do with the higher level of formality in a blog post and resulting comments, but some of it is directly due to the tangible feeling of community in Twitter. That's just my perception, of course, but Twitter feels like a safe, small community hangout. Blogs etc... feel like more formal "publishing" environments. Both are completely valid, and useful, but serve different (although complementary) purposes.

  5. It's actually the fact that Twitter *isn't* merely inward-facing or outward-facing, but in fact combines both with asymmetric communication and different durations of ephemerality that make it interesting. If it were just one or the other it wouldn't be 1/10 as interesting as it is.

    I leave the "fitting into groups" thing to others. Some days/hours/minutes I do, some I don't; some things I like are shared; some are not... but I find the desire to be outward-facing and not be part of a group a strange motivation to avoid connecting with new people using a tool like Twitter. My own "group" is only a small part people I know much about at all and an even smaller part people I actually know.

    Given that there are many ways to follow, including RSS, and that by default the system is open to Google, etc. I'm not sure why you think Twitter is any more inward-facing than, for instance, this blog.

  6. Twitter is funny because depending on how you have it set it can be inward or outward (if I understand you terms correctly). Twitter pages are public by default, which is why people often refer to it as micro-blogging. Yet you can, as I have done, make your updates private, meaning I control who can see them based on my also following them. This is what I like about twitter, it isn't one or the other, and different people can use it differently. As for "groups" again, what is so fascinating is that there is no group, just circles around each user that may or may not interconnect, and (other than when some nutjob like me makes his updates private,) whose intersections can keep expanding.

  7. but Twitter isn't an _exclusive_ inward-facing tool - it's very easy to join in.

    It's also easy to get ignored or left out ...

    Jon Husband


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