Monday, February 21, 2011

Twitter: Celebrity Gossip Network or Democratic Activist Network? Neither, It's Your Network

Back in 2007 when I first saw Twitter, I saw a dumb-down Facebook. It lets you send short text-only status update only. No photo attachment, no user-friendly UI, and even the status update was limited to 140 characters. I didn't think much of Twitter. It seemed to me that it was yet another social media that are competing for internet user's fragmented attention span.

Who Would Have Thought Twitter
Would Become A Symbol Of Egypt Revolution?
Forward the clock all the way to January of 2011. You cannot escape mention of Twitter from main stream media. From Grammy Awards to Tahrir Square Twitter has forever changed how people interact with crowd. Twitter has equalized the playing fields for all so that any one could influence in shaping collective consciousness.

Looking back at the humble origin, I'm totally blown away by how Twitter has been transformed. A simple microblogging site that began less than 5 years ago is now accredited as a catalyst for bringing massive anti-government demonstration in Middle East. I certainly have not foreseen how Twitter would be used a couple of years ago even. But then who would have?

I don't think even Twitter users, much less people who run Twitter, would have been able to predict Twitter's role today. No one knows how Twitter, and other social media sites for that matter, will be used in future. That is because the power of social media lies in allowing semi-public and public communication to occur on Internet. Simply put, social media is a communication platform for masses.

The platform allows teenagers to make frenzy about Justin Bieber's new haircut. But it also allows Libyans to organize anti-government demonstration with public message sharing. Social media like Twitter enable all of us to broadcast our thoughts, feelings and messages on 24/7 always-on global network.

Another Big Winner Brought By Twitter: Kardashians
They Command $10,000 Per Promotional Tweet
Twitter has played a pivotal role in enabling people to organize decentralized protests in Egypt and other Middle Eastern countries. We should not forget, however, that it is people who brought forth the changes. Without those people who are willing to put their lives on the line to voice their rejection of status quo, without those courageous youths who took the demonstrations to the streets, without mothers and fathers who came out to support the younger generation, there would have been no voice to amplify.

Social media is only a tool. Twitter has been one instance of those media channel. It will be what we make out of it.

Hurray to people's ingenuity to improvise with available tools. And let us entrepreneurs learn from people's ingenuity and passion.

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