Some perspective on Twitter and its brethren

Twitter, FriendFeed, Pownce, Facebook, OpenSocial and other evolving Internet services and technologies are important network amplifiers, but they aren't a solution for global warming.

The obsession with the ups and downs of Twitter among my friends has generated a great deal of bloviation, including my own . On a slow news weekend, Twitter's performance problems are fodder for a bit of theater and for getting some daily keyboard exercise.

The image below is meant to bring some perspective to the Twittersphere. On one hand, Twitter navel gazing (or any other navel gazing) is a waste of resources in the context of what is going on in the world. On the other hand, Twitter and its brethren are becoming viable communications vehicles for spreading the "word" and images.

For example, I first learned of the recent tragic earthquake in China via Twitter messages from people I follow on the service. To be clear, Twitter is not the Holy Grail of communications services--it's an extension of instant messaging and technologies such as RSS. Nor are the 140 characters in a Twitter message a substitute for a blog post or news article. But a "tweet" can be a network amplifier, providing a brief snapshot, innervated by followers and the followed, that can be broadcast around the world in near real time.

Twitter and related services are currently noisy, spammy, unwieldy, overrated, and often unreliable. But over time, the core concepts will become an integral part of the Internet's communications fabric.

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Tech Culture
About the author

Dan has more than 20 years of journalism experience. He has served as editor in chief of CBSNews.com, CNET News, ZDNet, PC Week, and MacWeek.

 

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