Guest Post: Jason Roberts
Twitter has revolutionized the way and speed in which we obtain news and information about people we know as well as notable figures in different fields such as sports, movies, television, technology, and world government just to name a few. It’s totally changed the method in which breaking news is announced worldwide. I had no idea when I first signed up how hooked I would become on the site and how much I would depend on it to view majority of my web content daily.
One night in March of 2008 while watching Attack of the Show on G4, Kevin Pereira mentioned a unique site that he was using and wanted to share it with the viewers. That night Kevin introduced viewing audience to Twitter. I had previously signed up for Plurk and was unimpressed so I abandoned my account. I was curious about Twitter because Kevin spoke so highly of the site that night so I headed over there and signed up under the name @microblogger (which I no longer use). Under my original account I managed to accumulate around 9,900 tweets under that account before I deleted it and switched over to my current handle. Originally when I signed up for my second account my Twitter handle was @jasoncroberts but sometime later I was able to snag @jason_ because it was a dormant account because @jason already belonged to Jason Calacanis. I simply asked @Support if I could switch my account over and they approved and ported all my tweets over too. I definitely grabbed a great piece of digital real estate and I’ve enjoyed my experience on Twitter a lot more since the switch.
In the short time of three years and four months I’ve witnessed the exponential growth of Twitter and it’s been an amazing ride so far. At first I was a tad bit skeptical at first when I signed up because it just wasn’t that busy of a site like it is today. Now I laugh to myself when I hear people that are Twitter newbies say that it’s a waste of time and I’ll never use my account then a month later they’re completely addicted to the site. To a novice internet user I can see how Twitter could be overwhelming and quite confusing with retweets, url shorteners, etc. I’ve always enjoyed the simplicity of the Twitter and that I don’t have to write a long involved statement, I can just tweet out 140 characters of goodness at a time.
The day I felt that Twitter had arrived as a commercially accepted tool for communication and for media usage was on January 15, 2009 when Janis Krums aka @jkrums tweeted this Twitpic with the quote:
"There’s a plane in the Hudson. I’m on the ferry going to pick up the people. Crazy."
Janis Krums was of course talking about the now famous picture he snapped that shows US Airways Flight 1549 sitting in the Hudson River which went viral and spread like wildfire across the web in no time. The fact that Krums beat every national news outlet to the punch with his picture proved how valuable Twitter can be. Capt. Chesley B. “Sully” Sullenberger and crew were hailed as heroes and the story was a sensation for months to come. I was in amazement how fast Twitter allowed information to be shared and how far behind the news networks were.
#Hashtags are an integral part to the success of Twitter. #Hashtags when used properly allow you to track a conversation on Twitter and it makes it easily searchable. A perfect example of this is when in mid 2009 when the #iranelection story broke on Twitter the world watched their monitors closely as each bit of information trickled in from the few on the ground in Iran that were still able to transmit their tweets and pictures. Late 2010 early 2011 Twitter was a driving force of communication that helped to spark the revolution in #Egypt when the people demanding that former Egypt’s president, Hosni Mubarak step down after being in power since October 1981. I learn a tremendous amount from the various sources of articles and snippets of information that are available. Twitter keeps me alerted to various happenings around the country and around the globe.
Twitter quickly replaced my RSS feeds because I’m able to follow everyone or every source of what interests me on the internet and in real life. I’m a firm believer of cycling through my list of people that I follow to give my timeline a fresh perspective. I tend to mainly unfollow accounts that have become inactive since I started following them or others ones with poor content. Your timeline can quickly become flooded with too much information if you follow too many users so being selective about who you follow is very important.
Spammers were far a few between in 2009 when I first signed up but as Twitter’s popularity grew it seemed that spammers took to the site like crazy. I love the Block and Report … for spam options that Twitter provides the user and I use them both frequently. I’m always extremely cautious when clicking on a shortened url unless it’s from a trusted, verified, official Twitter account. You can easily be redirected into a scam site that can hijack your Twitter log in so I suggest you think before you click on what you think is the hot trending topic url.
Without a doubt Twitter has quickly become one important piece to the modern method in which we communicate. Twitter makes brands who provide online customer service like @ComcastCares easily accessible. The account is now managed by Bill Gerth but it was originally established by Frank Eliason. When my Comcast internet had issues this past May I actually contacted the Comcast Cares account and Bill helped to expedite the process and made my ticket a corporate escalation which was eventually resolved. Other companies have taken notice of Comcast’s success and now provide excellent customer service on Twitter. Twitter also allows the average person to interact and contact celebrities, professional athletes an news media personalities and many other interesting people.
The dreaded Fail Whale
In the early days of Twitter the Fail Whale (as seen above) was a common site due to strain on the servers from the mass of traffic spikes. The afternoon that Michael Jackson passed was something to see internet wide. I recall reading my Twitter feed at work and I was totally shocked to see the headline about Michael. Twitter users are infamous for killing famous people off early even when they’re perfectly alive and breathing. The most recentvictim is Playboy magazine founder Hugh Hefner.
In the coming years it will be interesting to see what direction @jack guides Twitter into. I’ve seen reports of advertisements coming soon to user time lines very soon. I wonder how the user base will respond to them once they start showing up? The current promoted trending topics are off to the side and are easy to be ignored. With the mass of tech related companies in line to go public I wonder how long down the road it will be before Twitter decides to file for their initial public offering (IPO). Linked In had a successful IPO and Facebook looks to have a huge IPO in 2012 so I personally feel that it will be just a matter of time before Twitter follows suite. The future appears very bright for Twitter as long as they continue to stay true to their original mission and don’t let advertisers ruin the site.