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Twitter: A cultural shift?

April 13, 2009

Is Twitter a shift?

Twitter gets a worm. Twitter gets a few bad articles. Twitter gets a lot of groans.

But I think Twitter is shifting the ways things are being thought of online. Twitter was most-likely the reason Facebook redesigned it’s page. But the ease of conversation flow was the real reason. Think about the evolution of online communications. It really started with a monologue approach. Websites said stuff, we read stuff. Occasionally, after reading stuff, we bought stuff.

But the website wasn’t instantaneous. In order for that instant contact, you needed to download an IM client. ICQ was the one I used to use, but many people used AOL instant messenger. I can recall spending hours on ICQ, chatting one on one with people. But that wasn’t really the web. One didn’t type in www. to get to ICQ. Just be online, and open an application.

And so it went for a while. Until Twitter.

What Twitter brought was instant feedback. It brought instant messaging to a www. Post “I’m tired” and 5 people might ask you why in 3.6 seconds. And that changed the way we looked at interacting. For many, Twitter was the new mass IM. Instead of sending a message directly, to someone, one could send a message to everyone.

It wasn’t IMing. IMing is like phoning someone. It’s an active message out. But Twitter offered a passive message out to masses. It was simple to set your status in ICQ, or Skype, but Twitter let you broadcast status. And thus, the change to Facebook. The change wasn’t the redesign of the look, the change was the redesign of the flow. The passive updating of status was broadcast out to more people in a manner that was easy to interact with. No more wall to wall comments, this was comment to comment.

LinkedIn grabbed the same notion, to a lesser extent, offering the ability to comment on passive status updates in the “what are you working on” field.

But bigger than this is the notion that real time conversations can start without being actively sought. And this is the change in the web. The ability to comment on things not specifically meant for us. And then get in accidental conversations, where the catalyst wasn’t really the post, but the tool. That is what Twitter has brought us. A shift in the way we think of discourse online.

Twitter helped that shift. And that shift will eventually find it’s way into marketing. A practice that isn’t set up to react in real time.

Go ahead. Enter the conversation.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. September 15, 2014 9:11 am

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