A number of articles in recent weeks have speculated on whether Twitter is reaching a “tipping point” (defined as “point at which a slow gradual change becomes irreversible and then proceeds with gathering pace,” according to Wikipedia).
Will Twitter have tens of millions of users in a few years time? Or will it be an interesting tool that has relevance only to a relatively few users who see value that most people can’t?
More than a year ago, technology watcher Ross Mayfield suggested that Twitter had reached a tipping point, following the adoption of the service by many of his friends.
Pundits are split. Some believe that Twitter will remain more or less a fringe application, of interest to a limited audience, whereas others think that microblogging is the way of the future.
Rory Cellan-Jones of BBC News thinks that Twitter adoption will be slow and the service will be less popular than other social networking applications: “…I’m not convinced that Twitter is really going to spread in the way Facebook did,” he writes. Others are more upbeat. According to Murray Whyte, staff reporter at the Toronto Star, Twitter is, “…reaching its tipping point – the threshold where mindless pastime ends and social relevance begins.”
My guess is that we’re just seeing the beginning. In a reply to one blog about Twitter, I asserted that the simplicity of the Twitter concept is deceptive. “Chaos theory teaches us that infinite complexity can arise from very simple starting conditions.” Thus, Twitter is growing, evolving in complexity, in ways that we can barely imagine. That idea, if valid, leads to the inescapable conclusion that Twitter (or something like it) will be supremely relevant in our lives. It is, in a way, the closest thing we have to telepathy, the ability to peer into someone else’s mind and read their thoughts. As our lives grow ever more complex and information-rich, we’ll need, and demand, such tools to navigate our way through the world.
So has Twitter reached the “tipping point”? Maybe. But it doesn’t really matter. Soon we’re going to wonder how we ever did without it. I do.
Ross Mayfield Twitter Tips the Tuna
BBC News Twitter at the tipping point
Yaro Starak Yes I Am On Twitter
Social Times (Nick O’Neill) Twitter Has Officially Tipped
Wikipedia definition of “tipping point”