Sunday, December 06, 2009

Twitter, the Word of the Year

Alright, as it is that time of year when people, places, things, news outlets, those that are into this sort of thing, announce the (blank) of the year. CNN, for example has the "Heros of the Year", Time Magazine has the "Person of the Year" and People Magazine has the "Sexiest Man/Woman of the Year". All these are something that people who want to write about this sort of thing.

At the end of November, the Global Language Monitor announced the most popular words of 2009 and I suppose to no ones surprise, although as I look at the other words, it can be considered a bit of a surprise, the top word is "Twitter". This organization monitors the use of the English language on the Internet, through news media, so it gains an understanding what words are popular. After all the carefull analysis, the people behind have decided to declare Twitter, the famous 140 character microblog as the word of the year, or the most popular.

I've been thinking about it and in one way, 2009 may be the year Twitter came to an age, I suppose. There seems to be one event, or a series of events that brings about and propels something to the front. One has to go back and consider that the First Gulf War was the event that brought CNN to the forefront. After that war, it became one of the most important sources of instanteous round the clock news. So with Twitter, I suppose it has to do with the events in Tehran, following the disputed Presidential Elections. By going on Twitter, one could follow what was happening. As the young people of Tehran protested, they Tweeted. They sent off messages about what was happening to them, what they were witnessing, all in 140 characters or less. I know some would argue the arrest of the dissident in Egypt may be the first real twitter event. As well, one of the eyewitnesses of the crash landing into the Hudson River of US Airways, posted his photographs on Twitter.

I was reading an article in The Huffington Post, regarding the announcement. One of the most interesting comments, and this might explain why Twitter has stayed around, perhaps not as popular as Facebook, but has maintained a presence is this:
Twitter has gone in the way of YouTube. At first, people thought YouTube was silly and weird; they didn't know how to YouTube and what a YouTube channel was. Now YouTube is synonymous, the industry standard, for online video -- for everyday people to watch, upload and share videos," Scott Goodstein, the text messaging expert who ran Obama's social networking presence during the campaign, told me. "Twitter is going through the same process. Twitter has become synonymous with quick, short opinion and perspective -- coming from anyone, going everywhere."

Which is true; Twitter has gone from the ubiquitous "I'm sitting in my beanbag chair, eating popcorn", to a source of news and information. After all, if I want to know what is happening, all I need to do is look at the popular topics on the front page. A lot of it might be driven by the day or popular culture, just consider how last week #TigerWoods was right up there, or at times you can see Lady Gaga, but every so often something comes along and makes it interesting to follow. Or one can put in a search and discover what others are saying about a topic of interest to you. For example, today I typed in "Climategate" and one of the responses was:
h8groupthink @cnni If ur not going 2 cover this scandal thoroughly ur aren't legit journalists #climategate science scandal

By the way, using that quote does not mean I adhere to the thought that Climate Change is not real.

Personally , I think I'm beginning to get Twitter. I didn't at first, I thought it was a waste of time and just another way to get more spam in my life. When I had my first account I signed up to 'get' more followers, big mistake. In fact may I suggest that you never do that, all you will get is people pushing their business plans. Like I said more spam in my life. There have been a few articles complaining about twitter spam. On the other side, one person asked the question, is it spam or good marketing? AS with all new topics, Twitter has unleashed onto us a plethora of books filled with everything from How To Twitter, to using twitter as a business and marketing tool.

Of course the irony of all these marketing books, is Twitter has yet to make money. It may be worth a lot, on paper, its value may be high, but is anyone getting a decent salary from it? Then again, perhaps the founders don't need the money. Who knows.

It has inspired a lot of people to create a lot of ways of connecting with, looking at, following twitter. Right now on my computer and on my Ipod Touch is TweekDeck, a stand alone twitter reader and poster that flashes up messages of those I follow. It's handy and makes it possible to follow, and occassionally post, while not having to stare at it all the time I'm on the computer. As well, as an app it's very handy. Of course there are a lot of apps that have to deal with twitter available on the iphone and iPod Touch.

As i have mentioned about photography, there's a number of ways of posting pictures to twitter. either directly or through agents such as Twitpic, Pikchur or Tweetphoto. There's a lot more.

This being the holiday season, I can't close anything about twitter without mentioning this, you can give the gift of a book containing your tweets. Yes, the company Tweetbookz will publish a book containing your tweets. You heard me right. It is the gift that will surprise and induce hours of joy as family and friends pour over your 140 characters. It is the gift that all will remember and probably question what sort of ridiculous shallow self-centred so and so you truly are. Would I get anyoone this gift, I'm not going to say. The concept has been reviewed, even by

So congratulations Twitter. May your failwhales be rare and your success grow.

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