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Kevin Dean
by Kevin Dean
on February 28, 2013

 

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Let's talk about one of my favorite places on the internet: Twitter. Originally "twttr," the website launched in 2006 by Jack Dorsey has rapidly changed and expanded since its inception. As of 2012, Twitter had over 500 million registered users, and that number is on the rise (though the number of active users is unknown). I've been an avid user of the site since the beginning. In that period, it has gone through a remarkable transformation - not only in its structure but also in its relevance and use. So let's take some time to explain the importance of Twitter.

It wasn't much of anything when it started, but it quickly became the water-cooler of the internet after celebrities, including Ashton Kutcher, who hyped it in TV interviews. Since then, popular figures from all parts of the country and, in fact, the world began forming their own digital presence Everyone from President Barack Obama (27.7mil followers) to Lady Gaga (34.6mil followers) to the Dalai Lama (6.4 million followers) to Pope Benedict XVI (1.5 million followers) are now using Twitter. Of course, the primary users of Twitter are every-day people, but even they can rise out of obscurity to being prominent figures on the Website

It's no wonder that this is one of the most important aspects of Twitter. One person can have the ability to reach out to or at least be seen by millions of people at a time. This is not like the Super Bowl where you spend millions of dollars and hundreds of man-hours to devise a compelling statement to a captive audience, Twitter represents a relationship that is ongoing between Twitter user and followers. 

While there are probably a thousand "bots," or non-real users, created every day, the majority of these accounts stand for real people. They have likes, dislikes, interests, and passions. Due to this fact, tweets are notalwayswell prepared soundbites. Instead, tweets are often a very real window into a person's life. Even with the implications of a single user's influence, there is something still that has more of an interest for those who intend to use social media as a platform.

The inter-connectivity of the site is its most glorious aspect, and each day that expands as more groups and people join. If I want to say something about a brand, group or individual, I check to see if they have a Twitter account. If they do, I can use their handle (online name) or at least use a hashtag (essentially a category) so that my tweet can be easily referenced or searched. That way if I feel strongly enough about something others can know what I am talking about specifically and easily. It is a terrific way to inform people on the go, because it is as rapidly changing as what's on our minds. You make an announcement, like the PS4 this last week, and in seconds not only has it reached almost everyone on Twitter it will permeate as that announcement is re-tweeted (RTd, meaning other users essentially repost the tweet for others who do not follow that account to see).

Twitter's effects permeate throughout other forms of media as well. Tweets are now the subject of scandals like former Representative Anthony Weiner's ill-fated tweet, as well as the object or critique (for example the Onion's tweet during the Academy Awards Sunday). They are part of our daily media; news outlets reference prominent tweets each day regarding the major headlines.

Twitter's path from here on out is not set, but I do not think that it is going anywhere soon. I think that it will continue to accumulate influence and relevance as it is utilized and understood more. Moreover, I think that it is potential as a tool has never been higher.



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