All of a twitter

It’s been quite a year for Twitter.  The company was only founded in May 2007, yet has recently been valued at $1bn by investors (yes, really – and that’s an increase of $750m from the January 2009 valuation), and has become the new focus of attention/whipping boy when it comes to social media.  

While in 2008 rarely a week went by without a headline splashed across the newspapers about the evils/merits/misuse of Facebook, this year it’s the turn of Twitter.  In some cases the actual article makes scant mention of Twitter and is actually about Facebook and blogging, but it’s a sure sign that Twitter sells and that it is now the watchword for “stop press – someone did something silly/funny/embarrassing with social media” stories.  

It has been revealed that Twitter is being used by burglars to tell when people are not at home and by street gangs to stir up their beefs with rivals; that it can damage working memory in users; that it’s way to really annoy a potential client by insulting their city; that a Twitterstorm of ire in 140 characters or less results in bad PR across the 4th estate (cf Trafigura, Jan Moir); as does getting your assistant to do your tweeting, and that Stephen Fry saying he’d give up tweeting is big news.  

Most recently, the Global Language Monitor (no, me neither) has  declared that Twitter is the most popular word of 2009, it is revealed that Twitter can help with earthquake response and that Twitter’s DNS was briefly hacked by the Iranian Cyber Army

Understandably, a lot of people just can’t see the point of Twitter, as at first glance it’s not very exciting.  It’s just a stream of SMS-style posts on a web page – but then, like everything 2.0, it’s all about the community.  Having blown hot and cold myself, I’m still tweeting, for now, but if I stop I doubt I’ll get quite the same reaction as Mr. Fry. 

Damien Behan

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