Monthly Archives: April 2009

links for 2009-04-17

How did a technology of such simplicity gain overwhelming popularity in a relatively short amount of time? Now that an estimated five million users send a tweet at least once a month, what is its effect on society overall and how we conduct our day-to-day lives?

There are three main reasons that Twitter has become a dynamic part of our national discussion:

  • Text Messaging: Twitter is essentially text messaging writ large. Taking a cue from our friends in Asia, texting has become the dominant communication method for the 25-and-under populace. Any technology that plays off of that has a head start in gaining acceptance. It’s a natural extension to go from sending a message to one friend to sending a message to many simultaneously.
  • Simplicity: The subject matter of every tweet is predetermined: it’s the answer to the question “What are you doing?” Unlike a blog where creativity and uniqueness are theoretically expected and rewarded, Twitter thrives in the mundane aspects of everyday life. Its content is limited. It is meant to be disposable.
  • Narcissism: Twitter follows in the footsteps of Facebook and MySpace. It is taken for granted that Twitter users truly believe that their followers genuinely care what they are currently doing. By issuing or responding to a tweet, a person feels socially connected, however brief and tenuous that connection may be.

Any technology that provides a simple way to disseminate information to a wide audience instantly has enormous power and potential benefits to society and individuals alike. Instances that require this, however, are rare. Instead, Twitter has become the definition of banal.

So is this Web site anti-Twitter? Not necessarily. Rarely is the technology to blame, but rather how it is used and, in many cases, abused. As it gains popular acceptance, more and more examples present themselves that exemplify this abuse, particularly as the early adopters give way to the technology laggards. That’s what will be covered here.

That’s when the backlash begins.