My take on Twitter

“Enough already!” is most people’s response when I mention Twitter to them. Most of us have been inundated by the recent (or not so recent depending on how plugged in one is) bombardment by commentators, bloggers, and other media about the use and proliferation of Twitter. Disclaimer: I tweet at www.twitter.com/jkubicki

It seems there truly is no rhyme or reason for just who “gets’ Twitter and who does not. Most technology use can be broken down by many demographic elements. MySpace for example was keen with the GenY crowd at first and still is to large part though it has grown in use amongst other age groups. LinkedIn obviously caters to the professional networker but has adopted a more robust platform and seeks diverse user groups. Facebook has an enormous membership and a broad one at that . . . now. But again it began as Gen Y tool for real-time life-sharing and gossiping.

Twitter on the other hand appears to be a combination of all demographics – from the young to old – from the casual to professional user – from social to academic to networking. I will not ask the “chicken or egg” question here as to which came first – the need to have a more real-time- cross demographic social media tool or did the tool create the need? Rather, I want to focus on the membership of Twitter itself.

Twitter is thus far the only mass popular social media that allows access to others in a rather simple way – just hit “Follow.” Though doing so does not necessarily mean anyone will return the favor – there is some etiquette to at least giving any person who chooses to follow you a shot at being informative/entertaining/etc to you by following them (many later “unfollow” – Twitter’s version of de-friending in Facebook). The “Follow” function is a one-way transaction and does not require others to grant you permission or otherwise do anything – compare this to the other tools mentioned above. This simplicity has at least two effects that make Twitter different. One – you do not have to know someone or be introduced to someone to follow them thus this allows for a much more diverse and abundant population of potential people one can reach and be associated with. Two because of its platform Twitter allows access to virtually anyone who signs up – young, old, gossip user, scholar, USA, China or Brazil, etc.

As an example, currently I have followers from virtually every continent and follow folks from them as well. The information I share reaches not only people who know me, share my interests, or know someone who knows me, but it also reaches total and complete strangers – people who may either never have thought of what I am twitting about (and this can help proliferate ideas and/or create new ones) or they do not care about what I am saying. Either way the information is getting out and reaching people I would never and may never know.

I am sure there is a useful analogy or metaphor to make this point and perhaps it will come to me in short time. In meantime however, I will end this by suggesting that Twitter may not be the final word on social media but it is a fantastic bridge to the next thing – whatever that is. The question is do you have to be on this bridge in order to make it to the next one? If you are not transforming with technology will there come a time when the amount of user knowledge one lacks will prevent them from actively participating or understanding?
Joshua KubickiComment