BitDepth 685 - June 23

A status report on Twitter, 100 days after I returned to using the service actively...
Twitter 100 days later

Twitter screens; the owl shows up when an account has been suspended, an account built for follows, not contributions. 

@basantam With Twitter and Facebook around, e-mail is now officially the new 'snail-mail'
@gjer: hmm, exploding tweeps, multiplying twibes, rising hashtags, and new categorizers like twanalyst. Twitter is going autocatalytic.

The quotes above are from @gjer, a very old friend and classmate from the seventies and a very new one, @basantam, someone I "met" on Twitter and with whom I have a few meat world friends in common.
It's also not strictly accurate to describe this column as being written 100 days after my first encounter with Twitter. I joined the Twitterverse in September 2007, but my interest in the "microblogging" service faltered the first time around.
That isn't surprising. It's estimated that almost half of new Twitter users drop off the service within a few weeks. Thirty-four of the top 100 Twitter users from Trinidad and Tobago, according to, have no friends, followers or updates at all.
In 2007, there were no useful articles on how to navigate the service with advice on how to build "follows," the true magic at the heart of Twitter's instant interactions.

Nor were there some of the more useful innovations that have polished the quality of Twitter as a medium for virtual conversation, such as the "@" prefix before usernames that makes them clickable links or the "#" prefix for hashtags, which gathers messages according to topic.
Both of these innovations were initiated by Twitter users, who have been a key driving force in the way that the network has evolved in the last ten months or so. To the Twitter team's credit, they have been quick to identify useful ideas and make them functional parts of the service, turning @usernames and #hashtags into truly useful tools that respond to user clicks and not just searches.

News in a sentence
"Traditional media operates as source of information not as a means of coordination. It can't do more than make us sympathize. Twitter makes us empathize. It makes us part of it." - Clay Shirky on Twitter and Iran's elections.
In a short time, Twitter has become remarkably useful as a way of generally communicating with an intimate circle of tweeps and indispensable as a way of delivering news in constrained transmission circumstances as the hashtag #iranelection reveals.
Within an hour of public protest beginning in the streets of Tehran, tweets began flowing from Iran, even after the Government began shutting down formal transmission methods, including the local social network favorite, Friendfeed, and jamming traditional media signals. 

Twitter user
and transplanted Trini @tandmark follows news outside America with a special emphasis on Europe and the Middle East and was right on top of the coverage with "retweets," pass-along messages from other Twitter users much closer to the action on the streets of Tehran.
It wasn't the first time that Twitter beat traditional media houses to the news, but it was the first time that it became clear that even a 24 hour news cycle was too slow and clumsy to keep up with the immediacy of real-time tweets.

Following Twitter
As Twitter becomes more pervasive and widely used, talk shows and news reports are trying to incorporate the heady and often dizzily witty stream of tweets on any given subject into their broadcasts and publications. The Huffington Post has recently been giving custom Twitter searches on popular subjects pride of place alongside their website reports, often above their own comment box.

Facebook isn't sitting still in the face of this upstart competition, and the 800 pound social network has been tweaking its status updates to improve post by post privacy settings, a move it clearly hopes will bring its status capabilities more into line with the best elements of Twitter.

BitDepth 686:
How to use Twitter
BitDepth 672:
Tweet, tweet, twiddly tweet
Blog Video:
Twitter on CNews
BitDepth + Notes from the Twitterverse

Clay Shirky on Twitter as a news tool.
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