Twitter site destined to flutter to the top
Published: Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, June 22, 2011 14:06
Lately I realized that my world is being delivered in 140 characters or less. The social network Twitter has become an alternate source of news as well as way to inform me of other "less important" updates. Here's a smattering of tweets on my current
update stream: "Woke up and walked
into the front lounge and got handed a beer. My kinda off day. I guess brushing my teeth can wait."
"Must pop brain pimples!"
"It's the strangest thing, but when I'm drunk, I know how to speak Spanish."
Yet after filtering through the inane yet oddly entertaining updates I remembered that Twitter was where I first learned of Osama Bin Laden's death (it would be hard to miss that night on any social network) and Michele Bachmann's plan to run for President (may the stars have mercy on us).
There have also been a few times when a link would come across my update stream and the next morning I would see that same news in the daily News-Press.
Twitter currently still exists mostly to serve a certain niche in my experience, however. For bands and celebrities, Twitter is a rightfully
strong basis for their networking. It allows easy, quick interaction with fans and updates that your followers will eat up no matter how trivial.
Indeed, this was the reason I even bothered signing up for Twitter in the first place: an increasingly large amount of musicians I enjoy were using Twitter to document their travels more than Facebook. In that regard, Twitter has fulfilled its function perfectly. I have never been so in tune with not only trivial updates but also new announcements. As it turns out, it's also a great time sink (second only to Facebook).
According to CBS news, only 8% of Americans use Twitter and 55% of those users link to news stories
in their tweets. However, the majority of them do no link daily and therefore it can be difficult to find users who consistently lead you to news.
As situations like the Egyptian protesters tweeting their situation occurs more frequently, however, the use of Twitter as a news platform will only expand.
The potential for Twitter as a "new age" news platform is the ability to track movement on topics—this is accomplished via the use of a "hashtag," which is a phrase preceded by the "#" character. For example, when searching for #fgcu, I saw the following tweet potential new student made: "I'm in loveeeee with #fgcu yay now I have
to apply and get accepted." How neat.
Hashtags allow information and responses to be easily categorized and therefore creates an innovative way to tracking people's reactions to world events.
"#Osama" was trending the night his death was announced and viewing that string led to countless reactions from users. Some news stations now allow viewers to tweet their reactions to stories and those reactions are read or displayed on air.
Many people haven't clamped down on the service yet due to a lack of interest or understanding and there's nothing wrong with that. Without a desire to uncover the unique utilities Twitter has to offer,
it's nothing more than a cut down version of Facebook. But as a technophile interested in how the internet will shape the way we receive our news, Twitter is a promising new social network.