Do you remember back in school when we learned how new ideas and inventions changed the landscape of civilization? As time moves forward, we've found new ways to improve on old ideas...and then ways to improve on those ideas as well. It's how we sustain ourselves as a civilization and harness the power of discovery that's made available to us.
The telephone replaced the telegraph, the GPS made maps next to irrelevant, the television added a visual element to radio, the automatic transmission provided a second option to the manual transmission, and the ink pen became a more popular and less-messy alternative to the fountain pen.
Electric razors instead of shaving cream, Velcro instead of shoelaces, even the button-fly instead of a zipper. There is always something that comes along that is better, sleeker, and "the next big thing." And because of that, everyone wants to be the first one on board.
In the Web 2.0 universe, you can't turn a corner without seeing or hearing about social media. Websites like Facebook, YouTube, MySpace, and several others have become a tremendous part of the fabric of society. People flock to these sites by the thousands on an hourly basis, checking in with their friends, sending messages, and putting up blog posts to share their thoughts with friends. The average person spends at least 25 minutes a day on any one of these given sites.
But one application is catching fire and experiencing an immense popularity boom. And that's Twitter.
Sure, Twitter hasn't reached the number of users Facebook has (yet. At the time of this article, Facebook had reached over 200 million users, Twitter over 20 million), but the ease of use, addicting micro-blogging platform, and concise manner of relaying messages is making it the social medium of choice for actors, athletes, business owners, Internet marketers, and...well, everyone else!
Twitter, in a nutshell, gives you the ability to stay in the loop of your friends and those you follow...celebrities, too (Ashton Kutcher has over 2,000,000 followers. The fact that so many famous people have made their Twitter accounts known has added a higher level of appeal to the service). You can post updates, share pictures, videos, and links, even chat by sending messages back and forth like you would do in a chat room or on instant messengers. One catch...you have to keep your "tweet," or the message you're sending, to 140 characters or less.
Remember the first time you heard about the new service available on cell phones called "text messaging?" If you're like me, you're initial reaction was, "Why can't someone just call me?"
Now, sending a text message is more popular than dialing the phone and talking to someone.
As Twitter continues to build momentum, I'm positive there's a text message davidian out there saying, "Tweet? Why can't they just text me?"
What is one sure-fire sign of staying power? When the noun becomes a verb and the verb is used as every day language.
"What are you doing," Joey asks. "Texting," Billy replies.
Or, "Bonnie just texted me. Everyone's going to the movies at 9:00."
My spell-check still pops up suggestions for "texting" and "texted" since they're officially not words. But they've become just as much a part of our vocabularies as "the" and "is."
At first, many people frowned at the idea of texting. Now, so much of the world's communication is done through this platform, it's a wonder how we ever got along without it. It makes you wonder how everyone would react if it was taken away tomorrow.
Twitter is in that boat right now. First of all, the noun (Twitter) has its verbs (tweet, tweeting, twittering). Next, it's stirring up some conversation. What is it? What does it do?
Some people absolutely love the application. Others can't stand it for various reasons. Others are on the fence and looking to learn more about it. And some want to know what club Paris will be frequenting tonight.
Regardless of your individual viewpoint and opinion, chances are you've heard something about Twitter. It's been on the news, talk shows, late night shows, and many websites allow you the option to follow their updates if you have an account. It's even been mentioned in a recent car commercial as a new form of communication, spoken in the same breath as e-mail and text messaging.
"I think Twitter's a success for us when people stop talking about it," Twitter executive Jack Dorsey said.
The way things are going right now, it doesn't seem like that's on the horizon any time soon. But as time passes, when something else that captivates its audience hits the market, people will point their attention that direction. But while it's hot, a product, service, invention, or idea must seep into society's mainstream and become a household name. So much so, that people just do it without thinking.
It's a safe assumption to say Twitter is doing just that.
For now, "tweeting" is our "next big thing." And until the NEXT "next big thing" comes along...Tweet away, ladies and gentlemen!
Jason Cercone is the Co-Founder of LinXone Solutions, a Social Media Management firm that works with businesses, en
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