Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Who knew Twitter could actually be useful?

I've never really taken Twitter seriously. I suspect that's largely due to me not being the target audience. It was aimed at younger, mobile people. And, sadly, I'm neither of those. I like to consider myself reasonably technologically sophisticated, but I knew signing up for a twitter account would be useless. I can barely managed to keep my Facebook status updated on a regular basis. Finding 140 pithy characters several times a day wasn't going to happen.

Doesn't mean I don't enjoy parts of it. I have a couple of authors like Neil Gaiman and Warren Ellis who I follow on Twitter. But I honestly thought, especially when it exploded in popularity earlier this year, that it was going to be one of those fads that was going to curl up and die within the next two years. Myspace was hot shit a few years ago. Now, it's dying a low death.

However, it's been fascinating watching Twitter try to overthrow a country.

I'm sure there are any number of sites talking about what's happening in Iran. Lord knows it can be overwhelming. I've been using Andrew Sullivan's blog, which has been doing an excellent job of processing all the twitter feeds, emails and other information coming out of Iran. But essentially people are coordinating and passing word about what's happening via Twitter.

Even beyond Twitter, the whole cyber-warefare aspect of this "revolution" is interesting. Denial of Service attacks are being launched on websites both inside and outside of Iran. The government has been trying to shut down internet and cellular connections to try and disrupt things. People are finding away around. One side adapts; the other side counters. It's fascinating to watch.

Also fascinating, although in a much more depressing sense, is how badly CNN is being crucified during all of this. Once upon a time, CNN was the leader when it came to this kind of coverage. If they really were as silent as many are claiming when things blew up, well, that's pretty unforgivable.

I wonder how all of this is going to play out? I hope for the best in Iran, but fear the worst. The protesters have numbers and technology. The opposition has guns and no shame. That's not something that normally works out for the protesters, if Tienanmen Square (20 years ago this month) is any indication. I pray I'm wrong, but I suspect I'm not.

But I think the fall-out is going to go well beyond Iran. It's going to be interesting to see how people view new technologies like Twitter, the usefulness of mainstream media, politics and a whole host of things after all of this settles down.

Last Five
1. Remember you're a girl - Kaiser Chiefs
2. Mother - Tori Amos
3. Be right - Spirit of the West
4. Blossom - Ryan Adams
5. Red right hand - Nick Cage and the Bad Seeds*


Way Way Up said...

I found this post quiet interesting for a number of reasons. I've been horribly out of touch with international events lately, especially since the only real paper we get here in AB is News North so I catch most of the goings-on from the internet and even that is usually limited to the CBC since I can only read so much online news in a morning.

I have to admit though that I really have no clue what Twitter is other than apparently some sort of communication device (cue mocking laughing). But since they seem to be more of an urban thing and geared toward a younger crowd, perhaps I can be forgiven a little. I was well into university before getting an email account and never even owned a laptop until beginning my professional life. I know they have cells now in Iqaluit but promised myself I'd never own one, simply because the idea of being in constant communication just rankles me for some reason. To me it destroys the sense of isolation and the sense of place which are two of the things I've enjoyed about living up here.

Anyhow, I forgot where I was going with all this. I've slept in and the coffee hasn't kicked in. But if anyone can explain to me the idea of twitter and how it works and what makes it different from all the other communication technologies out there (email works just fine for my purposes), I'd be grateful to them.

towniebastard said...

Well, I could go into a lengthy explaination, but I suspect I would be robbing most of the information from Wikipedia, so instead here's a link for you to take a look at.


My main reason for thinking Twitter would be doomed once it reached a certain level of popularity was that I could see no way to make money off of it. I still don't. I suspect Twitter will eventually be sold off to Yahoo, Facebook or something else.

Yahoo Messenger or MSM don't make money directly for their companies, but they do make you more likely to use their services and stick around their websites. Which makes you more likely to click on one of those ads that makes them money.

Again, if you're on the move, use smart phones a lot and don't have the time or inclination to bash out emails and just want to give quick updates to large numbers of people on what you're doing, it's fine. For people living in the arctic, I suspect its appeal is going to be more limiting.