Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Twitting point?

Has Twitter reached a tipping point? :: Claudine Beaumont: "Twitter, it seems, could be on the cusp of going mainstream. If you don't know what Twitter is, allow me to explain - it's a 'microblogging' service that asks the question 'What are you doing now', and encourages users to respond in 140 characters or less.

The tech community loves Twitter. Up until now, it's mainly be used as a platform for both canvassing and sharing opinions, and for connecting to other people who might be helpful or useful to you, or who might be able to contribute in some wat [sic] to something that you're working on."

Interesting article about the potential mainstreaming of Twitter. Don't know that it is headed towards mainstream - let's face it, for the majority of people blogging, let alone microblogging, appears on the list of 'eh?' or 'not for me' methods of communicating... but its use is becoming less niche and more and more apps being developed for it mean that it's potential is starting to ramp up.

So, what makes something mainstream? I don't believe that it's the celebrity use which Claudine Beaumont identifies. I think that the type of people using it at present - the young (Andy Murray), the publicity-desperate (Britney Spears) and the techno-embracing (Stephen Fry) - are going to make anyone sit up and say 'wow, this could be relevant in my own life'. I have a feeling that it needs to find a bigger, more purposive difference than just 'celebs are using it'. What does Twitter do that other things don't? Why would someone use it in preference to other things out there?

Me, I like it because I can easily and quickly connect with loads of other people. I can get a sense of the wider community beyond my desk and get / hear opinions / share resources rapidly. It not just the tech community... it's great for the education community too. But, it's definitely go that 'opt in' feeling and people continue quite happily doing what they do without ever actually missing it at all. Just as I do when I don't have time to 'Tweet'. Maybe there isn't a tipping point for it because the adoption of Twitter just isn't like that? It's part of Anderson's long tail of communication and sits quite contentedly in its own particular niche. It's a coming together of particular groups of people when it's used in one way, a mono-directional broadcasting system for others... an evolving, morphing 'thing' which doesn't really need a tipping point on a broader scale. If it tips at all, it tips on an individual basis.

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