#HappyBirthday! Twitter and 7 years of transformation
Twitter goes from inane to tweets from popes, presidents and natural disaster survivors
Computerworld - Seven years ago today, Twitter was born when the first tweet was sent out.
And, oh, what changes seven years can bring.
"I see the Twitter we know today as much more of a communications medium than when it was initially launched -- when tweeting was viewed as an information vacuum, something used by lazy bloggers to announce the contents of their blue plate special," said Brad Shimmin, an analyst with Current Analysis. "Today, such inanity continues, of course, but via search, hashtags and following, we rely on Twitter to stay informed on world events, keep up with brands and people, and reach out for help in times of distress."
That, he added, is a pretty diverse set of crucial communication capabilities - all within 140 characters at a time.
Twitter today has more than 200 million active users, who are sending out more than 400 million tweets every day, wrote Karen Wickre, Twitter's editorial director, in a blog post.
Through the last seven years, Twitter has gone through a dramatic transformation. When it first started out, people tweeted more about their favorite sandwich than about world politics or social injustice.
That's no longer the case.
During last year's U.S. presidential race, Twitter became a key player, helping the different campaign camps get out their messages and amass volunteers. It also enabled voters to support their favorite candidates, get information about voting and encourage others to get out and vote.
In the last few weeks, Pope Benedict XVI used Twitter to say good-bye to his more than 1.6 million Twitter followers. And earlier this week, his successor, Pope Francis, used Twitter to greet his nearly 2 million followers.
"Twitter is so young and so new, yet so vital to the way we communicate and share information," said Jeff Kagan, an independent analyst. "It has gone through enormous changes in a few short years. During the last five years, we have seen it used in very creative ways no one imagined."
He pointed out that Twitter is able to make people feel connected to celebrities, politicians and world leaders.
The big question is what comes next for the social network?
"Well, when Twitter introduced Vine this January with the idea of letting users share short, looping videos, I felt as though we were seeing a bit of a rebirth with the introduction of a new, seemingly inane service that might grow into something vital," said Shimmin. "I feel that Twitter, as a communications utility rather than a social destination site like Facebook, will evolve in line with market and cultural demand."
And Patrick Moorhead, an analyst with Moor Insights & Strategy, said Twitter`s biggest challenge may be maintaining its simplicity and speed while adding sticky and money-making services.
"Consumers like Twitter because it`s simple, fast and pervasive. If Twitter gets complicated and slow, [it] becomes just another Facebook and we don't need two," he said. "I expect Twitter to build into a very streamlined version of Facebook, adding many more forms of media to share."
Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin, on Google+ or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her email address is email@example.com.
- Twitter's slipping user growth spooks investors
- Get ready to tweet your questions for Twitter's first earnings call
- Super Bowl sets Twitter record, as Volkswagen launches social war room
- Perspective: Twitter's success opens up IPO pipeline
- Update: Twitter goes public at $45 a share
- With IPO cash influx, Twitter could be bigger threat to Facebook
- Ahead of IPO, Twitter shines up multimedia image
- Twitter kicks off pre-IPO investor roadshow
- As its IPO looms, Twitter faces investor grilling
- Twitter experiments with 'Event Parrot' -- a news delivery service
Read more about Social Media in Computerworld's Social Media Topic Center.
- 15 Non-Certified IT Skills Growing in Demand
- How 19 Tech Titans Target Healthcare
- Twitter Suffering From Growing Pains (and Facebook Comparisons)
- Agile Comes to Data Integration
- Slideshow: 7 security mistakes people make with their mobile device
- iOS vs. Android: Which is more secure?
- 11 sure signs you've been hacked
- The Business of Social Business Social business represents a significant transformational opportunity for organizations. Read this whitepaper to learn more.
- HP HAVEn: See the big picture in Big Data HP HAVEn is the industry's first comprehensive, scalable, open, and secure platform for Big Data. Enterprises are drowning in a sea of data...
- What Datapipe customers need to know about the new PCI DSS 3.0 compliance standard This handy quick reference outlines what PCI DSS 3.0 is, who needs to be compliant and how Alert Logic solutions address the new...
- The 12 PCI DSS 3.0 requirements addressed by Peer 1 Hosting This handy quick reference outlines the 12 PCI DSS 3.0 requirements, who needs to be compliant and how Alert Logic solutions address the...
- Meg Whitman presents Unlocking IT with Big Data During this Web Event you will hear Meg Whitman, President and CEO, HP discuss HAVEn - the #1 Big Data platform, as well...
- The New Way to Work Knowledge Vault This Knowledge Vault focuses on how, in today's increasingly virtual world, it's more important than ever to engage deeply with employees, suppliers, partners,... All Social Media White Papers | Webcasts