Mass SMS and Illusion of Connectivity

SMS is a one to one medium, or at least, given that it arrives directly to your phone - you have convinced yourself its really being sent to you.

In fact, people who use advanced mobile devices can create lists that can mass-SMS from their list. In addition, using a web/mobile model, senders can also broadcast messages - we still feel as if its one to one, because the majority of message traffic - unlike, perhaps internet mail - arrives personalized. For example, there are account warnings, currently automated. Very little spam arrives by way of SMS due to a cost factor, sometimes as high as ten cents a message.

However, applications like twitter - and the mass-messaging that occurs from semi-personal lists even as small as ten users - are not focussed on communication, but rather - broadcasting. Twitter functions as a kind of lens through which prospective marketers can profile their target market - we live in an era in which each person alive receives more marketing information than ever before - and the active question remains among many marketing firms, as to whether or not the billions (with a B!) they have spent on that effort actually result in message delivery.

The public archives of twitter are farmed and data cubes are sold back to marketers to profile you - the main profit model of twitter is to allow others to easily condense the information from hundreds of thousands and sometimes millions of users - in order that they can use it to influence that population group in some way, whether a buying decision, or otherwise.

We maintain that perhaps someone is actually sending us a message. At present, we are mostly right. Those who send us text messages are often those people we know - but increasingly, they're not. People and companies are farming lists of people and using them for their own ends. A person, for example, in Los Angeles - in need of concert ticket money - uses their SMS list to tell you, her friend - that her bike has dropped off the top of her car. Paypals arrive, and the money is summarily used to purchase a concert ticket. Baaa.

Another person might be updating their message as to where they are - perhaps a famous sports personality, who has a vested interest in letting you know that the crowds gathering to hear him speak about a particular product - are large. Finally, a statesman might be posting updates on a particular issue that direct his followers down a rabbit trail while he meets with lobbyists and cuts a back room deal, to decimate legislation. And so, bills are drafted that go against the will of 76% of the American people - relationships are maintained where none exist, and money is transferred all over the world in pursuit of doing the right thing - all because you honestly feel you have some kind of connection to the man or woman you are messaging.

The 140 character limit enforces this as well, most personal messages can be expressed briefly - and although there is a technological limit in place with short messaging - the reality is that most devices could easily overcome it (messages, for example, could be broken up - and displayed again stitched together - this is a straightforward modification of both the message send application and the message receive application). Keeping it underneath 140 characters gives the marketing people the chance to avoid actual answers and just identify their branded, trademarked, and product or service oriented concepts in play. The 140 character limit keeps you , a plaything. A limited function message. Sort of the antithesis of blogs - which have undone the 24 hour news cycle, destroyed the concept that junk products can survive in the marketplace without someone doing a sendup, and provided the detail and in depth reporting that news media entertainment companies are paid to keep out of your hands.

So. What are you doing now?