- It is an entirely new form of distribution, it may be 140 characters, but the power is in the linkages it can create
- It happens first. Then contributors to twitter, millions of them, have the power to be in the right place at the right time. News of the London bombings a few years back came in first from social media, predominantly twitter.
- It is a search engine, one that uses the algorithms of Google, and adds human curiosity, ingenuity, on top of the maths
- It is an aggregator of information. Set your tweet deck to a subject, and it will assemble the “wisdom of the crowd” to your device
- It is a reporting tool, that can find and communicate and co-ordinate knowledge, insight, and news, almost instantaneously
- It is a marketing tool of great power. Anyone can put a link to their website, alerting the community of followers, and others looking for info on a subject to the post, or information, and then encourage linkages. It is a tool that both drives traffic to a site, and can engage at the same time, the slam dunk of marketing.
- It is a series of parallel conversations, real conversations where you can agree, disagree, bring more information to the table, express ideas, and have views shaped, and it all happens in almost real time.
- It is a place where diverse voices can be heard, a place where the views of those who previously had no hope of being heard have the potential to find an audience
- It has changed the way the written word works. No longer are we as serious as we were in the days of “proper journalism” now we know much better the impact of pictures, humor, and diversity in the way we write
- It is a level playing field, anyone can be heard, no longer do you have to own a printing press or a TV station to get your message out there
- It has redefined what is and what is not news. No longer do we rely on a few editors curating what we see and hear, there are now thousands, millions out there putting stuff out into the ecosystem, and we can pick and choose which bits we pick up
- Twitter has a long attention span, much longer than a newspaper, whose headline today is wrapping paper tomorrow. Twitter can build, and build as more people become engaged, and bring information to the table for consideration, and as an argument evolves, move in directions and into spaces a 24 hour news cycle would never consider.
- It creates communities around thoughts, ideas, and causes.
- It changes our notion of authority, everyone is equal to start off, and it is the value of an idea or view that attracts authority, not the role played in an organisation that gives authority
- It is an agent of change, harnessing the power of collaboration, at potentially lightening speed.
I am indebted to Alan Rustbridger, editor of the Guardian newspaper whose recent Andrew Olle lecture articulated many of the challenges facing traditional media owners as the new social media destroys their business model.
Among the gems in this lecture is a list of 15 uses of Twitter, as Alan says, it is far more than useless information on what Twits are having for breakfast, and should be considered for what it can do that has value, rather than just the nonsense accumulating in some places of its ecosystem, it is a disruption of the first order.
Here is an edited version of the list, with a few bits of my own thrown in, it is a fascinating view of a tool many over 50’s see as just a piece of nonsense our kids play with.
Pretty good for a tool whose only redeeming feature was that is allowed us to find out what some wannabe celeb was doing right now!!