The points of Tweets

by Jay Cross on September 27, 2008

What is this? From this close in, it seems as meaningless as a bunch of Tweets on Twitter.

You have to back away to understand this canvas painted by Georges Seurat in 1889. Seurat was a pointillist. He believed in the power of dots of primary color to create secondary colors in the viewer’s imagination. You’ve undoubtedly seen posters of Sunday Afternoon at the Grande Jatte:

It took Seurat two years to paint the dots of pure color in that one. You can see the original at the Art Institute of Chicago; I’ve made the pilgrimage. But now I’m stalling for time because I wanted the context of the dots from the top to appear below the fold.

Twitter is like pointillism. Up close it can be meaningless. Back away and a pattern emerges. Your subconscious shapes an image of the person from the Tweets. The whole is a phase change from the sum of the parts.

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