Making Sense of Twitter – Creation and History


by Heather Kallevig

When I first began using twitter, it took a time to understand the culture of this social machine. Like my first trial of any new, unfamiliar, public activity I began with a bit of trepidation. “What do I say? How do I communicate with others? Do I friend people? Will they friend me?” The questions, based on a Facebook viewpoint, swirled in a vortex of uncertainty. Usually when I am unsure, my habit is to talk – more is more. So, I get on Twitter, begin to Tweet, and discover for the first time, I am limited to how much I can say. I can barely get my fingers moving before my character allotment is spent. We’re going to have to rethink our approach… In the month since I began Twitter I now have made 26 tweets, followed 91 people, and gained 21 followers. The competitive academic in me eagerly peruses my weekly scorecard to assess my progress. Is my social impact greater than it was the week before? What did people view, retweet, etc? What can I do to up my ratings for next week? With 500 million tweets being posted per day, I am not alone in these practices. I am twitterpated about Twitter.

image from un cientifico geek

 

This need to tell others what we’re doing, thinking, reading is not a unique phenomenon exemplified by the vast array of social media platforms available to the public. Jack Dorsey, co-creator of Twitter knew there was possibility in this obsession. He was intrigued by the possibility of “status.” Not status in the form of jewels and trinkets, but the status of the here and now. He was a member of a stagnant business called Odeo. The 14 full-time employees were attempting to reinvent their company through brainstorms called “hackathons.” He presented his idea in February of 2006 and got the go-ahead to experiment. In March 2006 the first Tweet was sent. The remarkable status update that ushered in the start of the world’s most influential social media site (SMS) was “just setting up my twttr.” With those five words, the world would never be the same again.

One year ago, September 19th, 2013, CNN’s Brandon Griggs and Heather Kelly posted a history of Twitter. This exhibits the global power of a well-established SMS.

See the full article “23 Key Moments from Twitter History.”

To share a few important dates from their article:

“April 2008 — In an early example of the power of Twitter, an American graduate student used the service to alert his friends that he had been arrested at an anti-government protest in Mahalla, Egypt. After mounting pressure, authorities released him from jail the next day.”

“January 2009 — A US Airways plane with 155 people on board made a miraculous emergency landing on the Hudson River after striking a bird during takeoff. An eyewitness tweeted out a widely shared photo of passengers waiting on the plane’s wing to be rescued, cementing Twitter’s status as a real-time, news-gathering tool.”

“April 2009 — Actor Ashton Kutcher narrowly outpaces CNN to become the first Twitter user with 1 million followers.”

“June 2009 — After a disputed election in Iran, thousands of people took to the streets of Tehran in protest. The Iranian government cracked down on media reports about the protests, so demonstrators took to Twitter to get the word out, inspiring the phrase, “Twitter Revolution.””

January 2010 — Astronaut Timothy Creamer sent the first live tweet from space under his account, Astro_TJ. It said: “Hello Twitterverse! We r now LIVE tweeting from the International Space Station — the 1st live tweet from Space! 🙂 More soon, send your ?s.””

April 2010 — The Library of Congress announces plans to archive every public tweet on Twitter.”

“January 2011 — Twitter and Facebook play a key role in “Arab Spring” uprisings as people in Tunisa, Egypt, Syria, Libya and other countries used the social networks to message each other and organize protests.”

“March 2011 — Within minutes of news reports about an Egyptian cobra escaping from its enclosure at the Bronx Zoo, an anonymous jokester created a witty Twitter account that imagined the freed snake sightseeing its way around New York City. (Sample tweet: “Leaving Wall Street. These guys make my skin crawl.”) The account quickly amassed more than 100,000 followers and heralded a new wave of parody Twitter feeds.”

November 2012 — President Obama acknowledged his successful re-election with a tweeted image of him embracing his wife, Michelle, and the words “Four more years.” With almost 800,000 retweets, it became the most-shared tweet ever.”

Though its concise, Twitter continues to make history and will alter the face of society. This tweet shared in Amanda MacArthur, Twitter expert’s, 31 Quotes about Twitter Under 140 Characters states it well. “”We are the generation of Social Media, Our biggest Revolution is a Tweet of 141 Characters.” – @sandrachami

References:

Allen, K. (2013, June 17). 10 essentials of Twitter etiquette. Retrieved September 21, 2014.

Carlson, N. (2011, April 13). The Real History Of Twitter. Retrieved September 22, 2014.

Griggs, B., & Gross, D. (2013, September 19). 23 key moments from Twitter history. Retrieved September 22, 2014.

MacArthur, A. (n.d.). 31 Brilliant Quotes about Twitter in 140 Characters or Less. Retrieved September 22, 2014.

 

*This post also published at heatherkallevig.com/openairadvocate/