Though I’ve dabbled in many areas of social media, I’ve never jumped on with the Twitter bandwagon. To me – and I suspect to others – it remains a fun but essentially trivial fad that is not worth the trouble. But things seem to be changing. Check out this article in the Toronto Star, which suggests Twitter may have reached a tipping point into relevance with timely and critical news updates from recent disasters and political events. As the article puts it, Twitter has become a critical real-time, unmediated, globe-spanning conversation, with everyone a 24-hour news service. Even more than blogs or even social networks, a micro-blog platform like Twitter can provide reach and grass-roots immediacy that easily trumps the major media outlets.
Beyond becoming a news channel, Twitter continues to evolve as a useful networking tool that overlaps across the major players (Facebook, Linkedin.) The best example I’ve seen is several informal user groups in the tech sector and the Twitter updates that have mobilized participants in SXSW in Austin the past couple of years. And as Dell has shown, Twitter can be used as a marketing tool by posting specials and blog links to interested “friends”.
The lesson here is not so much that Twitter is protean and appears to be maturing into a more useful platform, but that it’s a risky game to predict how things will turn out in the Web 2.0 environment.