In the midst of some eye-opening on-the-ground-coverage in Iran & reflections on social media’s use in times of crisis, Twitter‘s been lauded as a tool able to bring ‘outsiders’ into the loop with unprecedented immediacy and increasing importance. Most well-known & demonstrative of its role thus far were yesterday’s announcement that the US State Department contacted Twitter HQ to request the delay of scheduled updates to ensure continued information was broadcast from innumerable frustrated citizens & the underwhelmed disappointment with mainstream media coverage of the election among observers worldwide over the past week (a.k.a. #CNNfail).
When asked by friends to explain Twitter (often phrased as “Why the crap are you on your iPhone again, Rudey McJerkalot?!”), which happens a lot since this (flattering?!) bizarro world recognition, it’s hard to describe the scale & scope of the medium. Depending on who you choose to follow, your daily dose of information via Twitter can consist solely of leaked hiphop mixtape bittorrents, horoscopes, localvore recipes, or salacious spam.
Like blogging, Twitter’s had a tough go earning the respect of mainstream media.
Lest I sound like a mohawk’d-Misfits-lovin’-kid screaming ‘Punk’s not dead!’, with every ‘decline of the relevancy of X’ article, there’s another useful voice popping up or staying vibrant online – be it on Twitter, blogs or holographic robot interpretive dances. The bad/boring/bored robots rust – this ratio of success:fail says nothing about the medium – the same can be said for unrecorded songs, unpublished poems & unsewn outfits.
Hopefully after this week’s umpteenth demonstration of Twitter’s usefulness beyond hype-y marketing forays it’ll stop being second-guessed as a fuel source to move forward an issue’s narrative.
Closer to home, & far more capable of describing the whats & whos of Twitter, are the computer whizzes at Sysomos. Their report released on Friday is phenomenal. Some brilliant observations can be gleaned from just scanning the Summary if you’re tight for time, here are my favourites with my comments in parentheses:
- 21% of users have never posted a Tweet (Would most agree that the 1/5 ratio of ‘lurkers’ is the same for chat rooms & forums?)
- 72.5% of users joined between January – May 2009 (Mind-boggling growth rates, thanks to Oprah & Ashton)
- 65.5% of self-identified ‘PR Professionals’ have never posted an update ( hm. )
- 55% of users use something other than Twitter.com’s webpage version, Tweetdeck is #1 with 19.7% marketshare (could determine viability of pay-to-play or tiered membership offering based on how many users opt for paid mobile applications)
Hopefully the next generation of this report could examine the content overall to determine how many posts are Retweets (or ‘RT’s), sharing website URLs & messages to ask/reply to other users (‘@’s back & forth) – this might give us a better idea of how conversational the medium can be vs. the broadcast-y nature in which it has been characterized/dismissed.
On that nerdy note, I bid you adieu & hope our paths cross in music nerdery this week during NXNE
Special hat-tip to Count Gavin (a.k.a. Gavin Stephens – hilarious Toronto comic) for movie-reference-reminder….