The Twitter revolution

Cue was here, and apart from the various exciting things we spoke about, he found time to enlighten me about Twitter.

I know it exists, and I’ve even checked out some twitter feeds once in a while, but it took Cue to open my eyes to a whole new world out there. He told me he’d completely stopped reading newspapers and visiting new websites any more. All of his world information is assimilated 140 characters at a time, through Twitter.

It’s a fascinating phenomenon. You wonder – when news becomes personal and ubiquitous, and when written communication is dissociated from the need to write well, Twitter emerges. And suddenly the floodgates are open, and anyone can write anything. As you learn the ropes, you realize that you can build a completely freeform community for yourself on Twitter – you choose who you listen to, whom you speak to, and what you say. You are part of the trends, and you create some of your own. Your five minutes of fame are stretched out to an eternity. Some people even build their entire lives around Twitter. As someone said recently — “Twitter. Where the invisible people in your phone are more supportive and encouraging than 99% in your real life.”

I think Twitter (and other online communities) can never be a substitute for real life, but imagine – being able to communicate with the world. And imagine being Twitter – being able to eavesdrop on the world’s conversation.

I had the pleasure of watching Deb Roy – the MIT Media Labs guy who recorded every sound made by his baby to track the genesis of every word – present about using Twitter to visualize the impact of TV advertising. It was an awesome presentation: by correlating what is happening in the real world to what millions of people are saying about it, you can get an insight into how everything affects everything else. Deb Roy’s company, Bluefin Labs, is trying to identify a “TV genome” which identifies and quantifies all conversations about TV.

Where is the science fiction about the brave new world that Twitter is ushering us into? Bring it on, I say!

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