Twitter, Micro-blogging and Mcdonaldization in the blogosphere

On: October 13, 2008
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About Alessandro Valente
MA student New Media Amsterdam Werkzaam bij vakantie aanbiedingen site TravelBird.


To understand the logic of Twittering or micro-blogging as a blogging practise it might help looking at the concept of ‘Mcdonaldization’. The term Mcdonaldization was first used by sociologist George Ritzer in his work ‘The Mcdonaldization of society‘ (1996). Mcdonaldization is seen as a modern extension of Max Weber’s theory of rationalization of modern society and culture. How Mcdonalds operates is used by Ritzer as an example to describe a sociological phenomenon:

“…the process by which the principles of the fast-food restaurant are coming to dominate more sectors of American society as well as the rest of the world.” (Ritzer, 1996)

According to Ritzer this process has four dimensions:


Getting from point A to B as efficient as possible. The goal is to get the costumer from hungry to full as fast as possible. The production process is stripped from all actions that don’t contribute to this goal.


The focus is on quantity of products sold and the streamlined process of delivery.

“quantity has become equivalent to quality; a lot of something, or the quick delivery of it means it must be good.” (Ritzer, 1996)


Service and products come in predictable forms. Employees behave according the same script and the standardized efficient way of work makes sure every BigMac looks exactly the same.


Control is caused by the substitution of non-human for human technology. Computers regulate most what is happening inside the kitchen. All cooking temperature is regulated by computers and a zoomer goes off when employees need to flip a burger or take the fries out of the deep fryer. This leaves less room for human errors and makes sure employees don’t need allot of talent nor training to perform the necessary tasks. As long as they obey to the machines.

Twitter & Microblogging

If we look at twittering as a blogging form we can see comparable logic behind its use and success. Twitter brings a very efficient way of blogging. There is no need anymore for time consuming practises like planning and thinking to make an elaborate blog, that needs to have a certain degree of quality before publication. A spontaneous one liner is enough to get the message across in the fastest way possible. No time goes to waste to get behind a computer, a mobile phone is sufficient to write and read the blogs on the go. Twitter makes its users blogging machines, augmenting the quantity of their blogs per time to never seen before heights. A lot of blogs by a quick and convenient delivery process, means it must be good (calculability). Twitter controls the way you blog and when you blog. You can only write your blog under a box that says “What are you doing?”, also there is a 140 character limit. Pushing the blogs in the well know Twitter convention “X does / goes to Y” (predictability). Also if a user hasn’t even blogged for more then 24 hours straight there is a nice solution. Twitter will send a message to the users’ mobile phone so he or she knows its time to flip the burger.. I mean write another blog on the spot.

The Irrationality of Rationality

Ritzer believes like Weber that systems that are rational within a narrow scope can lead to outcomes that are irrational or harmful for a bigger picture:

“Most specifically, irrationality means that rational systems are unreasonable systems. By that i mean that they deny the basic humanity, the human reason, of the people who work within or are served by them.” (Ritzer, 1996)

We are well informed of the “irrational” effects Mcdonald’s rational behavior can have on the individual and society as a whole. Obesity, environmental degradation, poor working conditions, etcetera (Play the Mcdonalds game to learn more!). But what could Twitters irrationalities of rationality be? Getting flooded with useless information? Users wasting time, stuck in the endless inviting flow of micro-blogs?

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