Why Twitter Is the Template for Future Communication
Overcommunication and its effects on society.
I don't typically keep up with "new technology." In fact, I've often been accused of living in the past. So, when I found out about Twitter -- a year after it went mainstream -- I made a snap judgment regarding its purpose and intended use (and therefore its relative value or detriment to society).
I was wrong.
As I said unequivocally at the time, "Twitter will be remembered as the peak of the social networking bubble." My reasoning, which I still cling to in part, was that Americans communicate far in excess of what is useful. We spend too much time attached to our wireless devices and computers, rehashing the past or fretting about the future, informing other people or being informed about minutiae, details that ultimately have little bearing on our own lives.
Rather, I argued, we should be out inventing, exploring, adventuring, communicating (in person) and discovering -- in short, living; concerning ourselves more with the present than the past or future.
To this notion, I still cling. However, Twitter's role in my idealistic social construct wasn't yet one I could appreciate.
Twitter, according to my ignorant understanding, was a way to find out how and when complete strangers take their coffee. In other words, to learn of the finer, yet superfluous details of life.
Although I'm quite certain that a meaningful percentage of Tweets fall into this category, I'm less concerned with Twitter's current use as I am about the future.
The world, as it turns out, is changing. And this fact is about the only thing that hasn't, isn't, and won't ever change. Our means of communication are evolving along with the rest of our increasingly complex lives, and no amount of lamenting about simpler days will slow this inevitable march toward the future.
It goes without saying, given the travails of big newspaper companies such as Gannett (GCI), McClatchy (MNI), and the New York Times Co. (NYT), that print is dying a slow, painful death.
The Internet, meanwhile, has become too wieldy to manage. Basic information appears in triplicate upon triplicate, and the chore isn't finding a piece of data, but figuring out if it's worth, pardon the expression, the paper it's printed on.
Twitter has the potential to change all that.
By giving every human with access to the Internet a voice and concurrently allowing each of those humans to "listen in" on the thoughts of other humans, Twitter allows each of us to construct our own condensed version of the rest of the world.
By following people you trust to sift through a segment of the day's news and other goings on, you can keep tabs on a human-screened roll of news stories, not to mention receive pertinent details (okay, not always pertinent) from people whose lives you actually care about.
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