In critic’s film polls, Citizen Kane is usually voted the most important film of all time.
It doesn’t look anything special to us nowadays.
That’s because everything that first appeared in Citizen Kane has been copied so much, it’s become part of cinema convention.
It broke all the boundaries that existed in film before that time.
It changed cinema, and so it doesn’t look special anymore.
That’s what happens with truly revolutionary ideas.
They get absorbed and become the new basic ground rules.
Orson Welles said Citizen Kane was revolutionary, largely due to the fact that he knew nothing about film.
He was a stage actor and director from New York.
So all he knew about were stage sets and stage lighting.
When he got to Hollywood he was regarded with awe.
So no one dared question anything he said.
But Orson Welles didn’t know that.
He assumed if he was doing anything wrong, the people who knew about film would tell him.
But of course they didn’t.
They assumed all of his ‘mistakes’ were bold, daring innovations no one had tried before.
And they were right, but for the wrong reason.
He wasn’t restricted by the same conventional knowledge as everyone else. So he could question, reinvent, and change cinema.
He put ceilings on all the room sets, because he didn’t know that wasn’t done.
This meant the technicians had to use spot lighting.
Instead of the multi-directional lighting used in film.
He was the first to use whip-pans, breakaway sets, and sound across the cut.
Because he didn’t know it wasn’t done.
He ignored the rules and something really good came out of it.
So it’s okay to be different.
But not for everyone.
Apparently there’s a right way and a wrong way to use Twitter.
And I’ve been using it the wrong way.
I know this because the other day I saw some people having a conversation about me on Twitter.
It went something along the lines of, “Dave Trott has 1,300 followers but only follows 30 people. Doesn’t he understand how Twitter works?”
Several other people got involved and all agreed I was wrong in following so few people.
I thought this could be interesting so I asked why.
He said he would answer it on his blog.
The answer was, by following several hundred, or even several thousand, people you could tap into what was happening in the zeitgeist.
You follow trends amongst people in similar groups.
You could even set up your own groups to spot trends.
To do this, the more people you’re following the better.
Which is really interesting and definitely a good use of Twitter.
If you’re a planner.
But I’m not a planner.
I’m a creative.
I don’t spend my time spotting and analysing trends.
I spend my time trying to get messages to stand out in the massively over communicated media.
And for that I need to be different, I need to be impactful, I need to be interesting.
So that’s how I’ve been using Twitter.
To find things that interest me.
Things that make me laugh, or think, or learn.
Things that provoke me or amuse me.
Because I’m more like a magpie than a trendspotter.
If I follow hundreds, or even thousands, of people I’ll get bored.
So why do that?
Why not treat Twitter like creative people treat most things?
Experiment with it, see how I can use it.
Maybe I’ll turn up something new.
But even if I don’t, why must there be only one right way to use it?
Why would you want to stop someone being different?
It’s not a safety issue.
I won’t harm anyone by using Twitter the wrong way.
But I might learn something I didn’t know before.
Isn’t that a good thing?