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The Meaning of Twitter?

Twitter is the next killer app of the Web after email. It may also be the world’s most powerful barometer of societal emotion and the first truly societal opinion measure. And it’s only in its infancy. Twitter is a temperature gauge of society, a mood monitor and the search engine of emotion.

I’m beginning to think Twitter may just be the social tool that signifies the immense societal changes underway that we are yet barely able to understand. Some anecdotal evidence of this can be found in how news and stories break today and the rapid vertical growth of Twitter in every day use.
Twitter tells anyone who wants to know what people are thinking, doing, feeling, planning, hate, love or care about. In this context it is no surprise that some of the earliest add-on tools to Twitter to be created was TwitterGrader (we all like to know our social standing in a community.) Then there’s TwitterSearch which was an app bought by Twitter and integrated. TweetDeck soon appeared for “power twitterers” (guilty here of using it!), in fact here’s a list of over 60 Twitter apps that have developed.
Our most basic nature as human beings is to socialize, whether that’s on a large scale or small (i.e. just a few people for Twushi – Twitter folks gather for sushi), we crave social connections. Forming groups is fundamental to our everyday living – for work or play. Sharing information/knowledge is what makes our society grow, for good or bad.
Twitter is an enabler of fast group dynamics – faster than email. You can connect quickly around an issue; like the #coalition discussion in Canada that showed a fundamental societal difference in Canadian politics demographically. Obama’s extensive use of Twitter in campaigning. When a topic gets heated in Twitter, people assign a “hashtag” to the theme (i.e. #coalition), and in fact you can define a hashtag.
All of this points to a simple communication tool that has enabled the connected world to find a powerful voice. As Twitter and it’s ecosystem grow (like email did) we will see more and more examples of societal change driven by social tools.
Twitter is an early indicator of this impending change. Twitter, I think, is the first mass-scale societal radar, temperature gauge and barometer. Social protest in the future will be marked not just by marches on government buildings, but CyberMarches that take place using tools like Twitter – and spread virally to other connected networks….reaching more people faster than ever in human history.
Just as Wiki’s an “argument-based” social tool, Twitter is an opinion-based tool.
What’s your theory?

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