WORLD OF TEXT

World Communications or just a MySpace offshoot – Twitter

Posted on: 6. April 2009

So far, all the web 2.0 applications with a future have in some form reached me, I have a StudiVZ account (StudiVZ being the German version of Facebook), I’m writing this blog, and I’m browsing YouTube for good clips daily. The newest craze however, has so far eluded me – Twitter.

A short intro for all of you that, like me, have not twittered with the rest of the internet-faring world – Twitter was originally designed for people to write short messages so, that friends / family would know what they are up to at any given moment. Similar features are integrated into Facebook and MySpace.

So, why is Twitter so successful with something so little of a feature? Well, I have looked around, and these are the likely culprits:

-Sites like Facebook and MySpace are, if one can believe it, too „old“ for the newest generation of internet phenomenas. Anything that doesn’t look like a blog just isn’t cool enough anymore – MySpace pages were always seen as a bit unwieldy, even more so since slick designs for blogs were as easy as a few mouseclicks. Facebook has no customizability, plus a ton more functions many people won’t even need – the general populace of Facebook is between 14 and 28, older internet users usually shy away from the „hip“ platform. Twitter is new, exciting, and although it does something old and mundane, it presents it in a new spotlight.

-The „Meme“ factor – everyone has heard of lolcats and other such things, and while Twitter is not an internet meme, most things on the net behave similarly to one – when it first breaks out, everyone has to jump on the bandwagon. The meme is then established and overhyped for a certain period of time. After that, it usually is considered „unfunny“ or „uncool“ and people are ridiculed for using them. The same thing happens to internet phenomena – users are attracted to a certain idea, swarm it until it bears no fun / usefulness anymore, and then move on to the next. When was the last time you heard news about MySpace or YouTube? Everyone is still using Youtube because the „next best thing when it comes online streaming“ hasn’t come along. MySpace is dying out because Facebook came along, and Facebook probably lost quite a bit of steam to Twitter. People are always ready to check out new things, and just as quickly abandon them for the newest thing. The internet is an everchanging place.

-Good Advertising / Product Placement. While Facebook was exclusively used by your average person, and more about you and your friends, Twitter is as much that as it is also about people you would like to know more about. Celebrities, TV Shows, Movie sets and many more „new things, people, groups“ have a Twitter account just to create more buzz around themselves – people like a certain series, here that they send out small messages from the set over Twitter, and subsequently begin using Twitter. This is again something MySpace did before, but MySpace did this in form of blog entries that were mostly obscured by all the pictures, music and „friendslist with pictures“ – something that hurts the real thing people want to see, more information on their favorite star(s). In that regard, Twitter’s simplicity rules supreme.

I have yet to get a Twitter account, and I doubt I will be getting one. Blogging, Youtube, most viral internet things that stayed, did that for a reason – they filled a niche so well that they weren’t replaced by the „next big thing“. Twitter has to beat the test of time first, and I’m not counting on it to do that. I like to be suprised, though.

-Moritz

1 Response to "World Communications or just a MySpace offshoot – Twitter"

Twitter is something that has definitely passed me by as well, though admittedly it isn’t alone in that regard. I suppose Twitter has successfully combined the appeal of Facebook’s status updates with the ease of use and robustness of an SMS message, and done so well enough that Facebook consider them a rival service. And as you said, many a celebrity, TV show and news agency have considered it pertinent to get an account.

As for how long it will last is anyone’s guess. As you rightly say, like so many Internet phenomenon it is currently having its moment in the sun, but will dwindle back down to its key adherents before too long.

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