Tweet from the future
Ever since 2007 Twitter has been the buzz. But why? Great company? Innovative technology? No, I think it's because they didn't really invent a new technology, they invented a new communication method. One that's becoming as standard as using a phone, or a replacement to email. Twitter has the promise to be the next chapter in ways humans communicate. Twitter is the internet at its full potential. Around 1996 I was working at a Barnes & Nobles while going to school. I was stationed in the software/computer part of the store, and every so often our community director would bring in someone on a given topic to present.
With the internet being pretty new, she got someone to come in to talk about the internet. Again this was 1996. I can't remember who she got, at the time I thought he was way too technical - but now, I think he was from the future.
During his presentation to a group of about 10 or so customers, he described how the internet works, drawing a large cloud (and calling it that) on a whiteboard, showing connected computers. This is my fist piece of evidence he was from the future, basically describing cloud computing ;-)
What I really remember from this talk in 1996 is the question and answer session at the end where someone asked "where do I go to find something on the internet?". This was before Google, so the common answer would be something like Altavista, or Yahoo - but this traveler from the future said "You just post a question to the community and you'll get an answer" - "what a idiot" I thought. Now, I'll concede that he was really talking about usernet groups at the time, but today you'd hear that same answer from many of our most influential speakers.
I know it's pretty much what I do today, I'll DM someone, post a question, or search twitter to see how the community is handling a given topic. I have twitter results injected in my Google results via Grease Monkey - and often find the realtime results more valuable.
Twitter is the internet. It's a communication medium like no other. It's what I believe the internet was intended to be. A collective social "thing" that allows us to harness humanity (a triumph really). When the internet, er twitter went down last month it was a big deal, as big as if AT&T went down (or when AT&T was down at SXSW this year, twitter was a alternative way to communicate).
I was on a twitter panel at work a while back (with a PACKED audience), and the question of "can twitter go out of fashion" came up. In my opinion, it can't because it's the internet. It's not a place that can get old (like MySpace), it's a communication medium. I guess it could go out of fashion like the pager, but only when a better form of communication emerges, not JUST a better pager.
The internet is a collection of objects (not tubes): text, video, audio, etc... today we find many of those objects through a system (Google), but in the near future can Google keep up with millions of people? Can Google index, and rank faster than an international community of millions?
How is twitter going to evolve? I think it will become a shared non-corporate communication medium. I'm hoping someone (Google) buys it and makes it free, portable, and reliable. It's a snapshot of humanity, a moment in time where we can look back and see the biggest thing on this date is: Google Voice, Harry Potter, and #bringbackrachelle. Unlike past communication mediums, it's public, and easily recordable for all time. Think if twitter was around when JFK was shot, instant recordable international reaction for all time.
How about when all the OpenID/Social Connect/Facebook Connect/OAuth gets settled, you can login via any number of tools, and then communicate on a single platform. Or maybe it's multiple platforms that are all connected - where a Plurk and a twit will show up just as if they were from the same source.
Twitter is a new form of communication that has never really existed before, a critical mass of shared information - building on it's predecessors: roads, telegraph, telephone, pagers, email, texting, and now twitter. This is only possible at this point and time with the technology we have today, this is the potential of the internet.