I had a few teenage friends over at the house abut a month ago, and I they started asking me about some of the newest social mediums out there taking off. They were really trying to see if I knew anything about Twitter.
"What is Twitter?" one of the girls asked
"Oh, I think it's a High school thing." another guy piped in
"Ughh, I don't have time to learn something new right now." she said as she texted one of her other friends on a Blackberry Storm.
I sat back and thought it kind of amusing that here were some college students that were trying to understand the change in cultural communication, and most of the conversation was negative in scope. The silly part is, most of the current communication mediums we have came from college students trying to push the envelope 5-10 years ago. Both MySpace and Facebook were dreamt in the minds of bored college students, and subsequently became two of the most used information highways in the world.
But the question remains…What is this Twitter thing?
I'm no social Media Expert, but I think it important to be in places where people are hanging out. I don't think anyone should feel like they have to be involved in a place online that they don't feel comfortable or don't understand, but I do think it's important that we understand the shifts in communication, and how they are being used.
So Twitter. Here's my Top 5 ideas about Twitter.
1. It's a "Micro Blog." Obviously if you're reading this website, you know a blog is a place in the world where people voice thoughts, explore ideas, convey information, or just jack around online. Blogs can be serious. They can be funny. They can be long. They can be short. A Blog is the basic ideas of an author that people follow.
Twitter takes that idea and compresses it into 140 characters. In other words, Twitter is a place where people can post information about what's going on in their world in under 140 individual characters.
2. It's a way to communicate to people in a virtual shout out. Much like Facebook walls, Twitter allows people to identify those they want to communicate to individually. You can post something like "@braner, I like your blog." And If I was following your twitter action, I could receive that message and communicate back to you.
3. It's totally controlled by the user. Twitter is a place where the user can decide to follow certain people or groups, and deny others. For example, I can follow news organizations and get 140 character updates when they post them, but they have the decision to follow me. So you can in essence be a virtual listener. An online eavesdropper of sorts.
4. It's becoming a way that everyone can have access to seeing what friends are doing at any given time. You can leave a message like "I'm going to the store," or "I'm heading to church" and all your friends following you can know what's going on in your world. It might seem a bit invasive, but remember; the messages are controlled by the user, so you don't have to post anything you don't want. AND think about how many times you've been somewhere and your friends say, "I wish I knew you were there so we could hang out." Well now, with Twitter, they can.
5. While E-mail ruled the world in the 90's, and Facebook style took over in the 00's, I think places like Twitter are beginning to shape not only the way we communicate with each other, but they begin shaping our own online presence. It allows for people to have a personality online, and communicate that personality to as many people that wish to know about them. Some might think it narcissistic to keep posting things about yourself, but remember communication is a two way street. To be known, and to know are the two principles of relationship.
So, I don't know if it's going to be the next wave, the new wave, or just a crashing wave; but for now Twitter is being used by companies, individuals, news stations, non-profits, and yes….yours truly. (you can find me on twitter by typing in the name "braner")
Test it out and see what you think. Just click on the icon above and you'll be directed to create your own Twitter profile. I'd love to get your comments if you have an opinion either way. Social media is an interesting study on how and why we communicate the way we do.
Don't forget to come and be a part of the radio show today at 4:00 CST. I'll be unveiling some new stuff going on at K-Colorado. Just click on the blog talk radio button below, and you'll be directed to the live stream at 4:00 CST. See you there.