I remember first hearing about Twitter in 2007 and it’s quirkiness didn’t really appeal to me (one hell of a thing for a geek to say!). I happily communicated to my friends and was kept up to date with what they were doing via Face Book. I finally caved and signed up to Twitter last year to follow the rest of the geeky sheep.
Less than a year after signing up, I’m probably one of its biggest advocates as my attitude to tweeting has progressed through the following stages:
- “What? Why? Get a life…”
- “Okay I’ve signed up. I’m getting it. What next?”
- “This rocks! Where would I be without this?”
Twitters’ biggest barrier to an early uptake by the masses has been its simplicity and lack of apparent usefulness (Stage 1). While many people are happy to treat Twitter as a giant chat room, it is often overlooked that they all now have have a very loud voice in an ever growing crowd (Stage 2). Each tweet is persisted via a perma-link and could potentially be found on the web for ever more… I suppose the moral to this story is to be careful what you say!
Twitters’ networking model is based on assumed inclusivity. People can choose to listen to me and unless I object and block them, they can listen to me for ever more. I don’t really care who listens in fact, the more the merrier. By this thinking,I must consider my day-to-day, random thoughts less personal(?) than the contents of my face book as, I won’t necessarily block anyone but here in lies a paradox.
People that follow my tweets will probably know me more on a day-to-day personal level
than a school friend that I haven’t spoken to for twenty years but qualifies as one of my FB buddies. Anyone can follow me on twitter. That said, I still actively use Face Book to stay in touch with old buddies and could never be without it. Unlike the curse of Friends Reunited, I’ve been to reunions with old friends via FB and am looking forward to another one later this year.
I firmly believe that it’s my geeky alter ego that tweets. My Face Book buddies and Twitter followers are completely different audiences.
I decided to post on this subject because Twitters’ impact really came home to me this week while watching an interview on the news. The interviewee, a medical doctor was answering tweets, posted as questions regarding the swine flu pandemic. These tweets were read out to him by the news reader (his job’s getting easier). That really had an impact on me and made me realise that the media has firmly embedded itself in “Stage 3”. Further to this, within two hours of tweeting a comment this morning, the BBC had contacted me for further information on the matter I’d tweeted about.
In a week when “Web 2.0” became the millionth word in the English language, it has never become so apparent that the web is there to be written to by absolutely anyone, and there's always someone out there listening to what you’ve got to say - provided you can communicate within 140 characters. I’ve just got to figure out why Stephen Fry has blocked me…