I’ve been on vacation for a couple of weeks. A day after I left Key Largo in Florida, a mandatory evacuation order was issued for all non-residents of the Keys. Talk about lucky!
And isn’t that what Twitter is about? Luck? Happenstance? We delight in those serendipitous mini-happenings where you explore and discover, have new thoughts and encounter new friends (or enemies!).
So two weeks away from Twitter was pause to reflect and consider. Not that any new revelation revealed itself, but there was a coalescing of thoughts and ideas. What is Twitter, what does it mean, how do we use it, where is it going…?
1. Twitter is one of a universe of microblogging applications. One size doesn’t fit all. Some like Plurk, FriendFeed or other apps offer more or less functionality. The fit is about your personality and needs, not the apps’ shortcomings or superfluity.
2. Microblogging can be used any way people want. To converse about day-to-day happenings, rant about the hate de jour, promote a product or service, or just share information or knowledge. The different apps will morph and evolve to meet these different needs. Will users have the time or inclination to parse out their content to match the different apps? Aggregating apps such as ping.fm allow users to broadcast the same message to a wide range of apps, so the differentiators become blurred, and the distinctions less useful.
3. Microblogging represents a stream of consciousness. A multitude of conscious thoughts are reflected. Whether it’s something as mundane as having breakfast or a profound epiphany, they are all part of a collective manifestation of human self-awareness. There is something bigger here than just people typing stuff on their computers. This is a sociopsychological phenomenon with a potential we can barely grasp right now. Perhaps the collective stream can be thought of as a hive mind. It’s not something any single one of us can grasp. We can call this panconsciousness.
4. As data centers and cloud computing evolve, so that functionality leaves the desktop and matures to a full online capacity, more of our usage will become funneled through microblogs. Imagine for example, working on a document and, at the same time as you save, its URL is automatically presented on a microblog to users that you want to share with. At some point, email will be subsumed as point to point messaging through the browser becomes effortless, flexible and secure.
5. Mining the microblogs for consumer data, news immediacy and trend forecasting will be significant growth industries. Developers will focus on AI’s that can aggregate and present this data in usable form. Isn’t it so much more efficient to tap directly into the collective conscious than rely on cumbersome and error-prone survey instruments? And why wait for news to be filtered through a journalist, an editor and a webmaster when it can be directly pulled from the source? And with homage to Asimov’s concept of psychohistory, using statistical approaches to forecasting will allow trend analysts ever more prescience in predicting near term future events.
It’s a thrilling time ahead and there’s no vacation from the future!