Thursday 18 December 2008

The final post of 2008 on the topic of Twitter

I realise Twitter has been something of a Bo3 meme this year, but this is the post to end all posts. Or arguments.

When I introduce people to the idea of Twitter ("it's kinda like a little broadcast service where you type little short messages into a box and send them out so people can find and read them") they tend to look at me blankly and ask: what's the point? what will this add to my life? what possible meaning can you get out of a 140-character long message?

Previously, I've kind of waffled in reply, about ambient information and buzz monitoring and social networks and smart people who write funny and thoughtful things that I like to know about.

Now I have a better answer. Twitter fulfils our hard-coded curiosity about the people around us, and our deep-set desire to share. My proof? A friend's discovery today of 'Personal Items' in historical NZ newspapers - the 100-year-old equivalent of Twitter.

You can get to thousands of these here - amazing little snippets of shared and published, mudane and hilarious and wrenching detail from people's lives a century ago.

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