Thursday, January 15, 2009

Twitter - Jumping the Gap

Perhaps it's because I'm more involved in Twitter these days but I'm finding more and more evidence that Twitter is jumping the gap - beginning to cross the chasm between early adopters and going mainstream.

Of course, for some, this is about as welcome as jumping the shark but this is the stage of maturation I really love. I love the discovery of something new, figuring out how it can be useful, and then sharing that vision with others until they get it themselves. My first experience with this whole World Wide Web aspect of the internet was like that and now with Twitter, I'm actually melding that with a return to a comfort zone distinctly reminiscent of the early days of BITNet.

Near daily, we're finding new uses for Twitter. Now that it's not just about what sort of coffee drink the person in front of you is ordering, it's not just about marketing either. During the snow storms last month in Seattle, finding out weather and road status were invaluable tools for coping with all the disruption.

And Twitter is great for breaking news. Tweets today started full of news and speculation about Steve Jobs and quickly moved on to subjects like the plane crashing in the Hudson River and other topics that regularly take a bit more time to reach mainstream media.

In fact, it was at least three days between when I heard about the pantsed Vail skier via Twitter and the first forwarded email in my inbox. News junkie that I am, I'm following news-oriented Twitter accounts as fast as I can discover them.

From these uses, it's not at all a big leap to thinking of using Twitter in emergency situations including using Twitter as an emergency broacast system and the possibility of having Twitter play a role in a larger technology solution for emergencies and disasters.

Twitter has been a great discovery mechanism as well - finding new people, finding blogs like the one published by Washington State Department of Transportation and finding lots of other great sites and interesting information.

It wasn't so very long ago when the notion of being rescued with Twitter was a big deal. Now that this seems an obvious go-to, I wonder where we'll head next with this technology. We like to make predictions this time of year - how do you see Twitter being used in the future and what would it take to get there?

In any case, the pattern I've noticed is technology is often used for fun before it's real usefulness is identified and put to work. It doesn't hurt to think about what's fun in our own lives and how that might be made useful.

How do I use technology to move me forward?