“ Happy birthday to you, -Happy birthday to you, Happy birthday dear Twitter, Happy birthday to you. (And 42 characters left.)”
Twitter, the micro-blogging phenomenon turned five and a half years old this past September. Programming for this unique social network started on March 13, 2006 while the first tweet: “inviting coworkers” was sent on March 21, 2006. You can commemorate on either date, or feel free to create a week-long celebration each year on the year (or half year).
But whenever you break out the cake and champagne, make sure remember what has really made this website remarkable. Its sheer ability to make 140 characters come alive – whether about the mundane daily happenings or ultimately historic - is what has compelled us to read and contribute. Just consider at the past few months of tweets - documenting everything from Charlie Sheen’s rants and raves to eyewitness accounts of revolution and protests.
For some, the event that solidified Twitter’s media presence was when Janis Krums posted an image of passengers huddled on the wing of a US Airways plane - only moments after the aircraft plunged into the Hudson River. According to the New York Daily News, @jkrums wrote: "There's a plane in the Hudson. I'm on the ferry going to pick up the people. Crazy.” As the paper noted, it was a 3:50 p.m. "tweet" heard 'round the world. And this news was out and recorded– before any traditional media outlets could even begin to cover the event.
For others, Twitter as part of the social network was all about Ashton Kutcher’s effort to reach 1 million followers before CNN or Oprah’s first tweet on live TV. Eight million followers for Justin (but Lady Gaga got there first), seven million for Britney, 1.3 million for Mr. Sheen. And the beauty of the technology, if you have to ask, “who?”, then it’s long overdue to learn how.
According to his Twitter page, Jack Dorsey, “Creator, Co-founder and Chairman of Twitter, CEO of Square” had spent the 5th anniversary in March explaining Twitter’s origin and legacy including its name: “The name Twitter came from @Noah Glass & the Oxford English: "a short inconsequential burst of information, chirps from birds." #twttr”
Ironically, though there are 75 million+ users concerned about reading those bursts, many current accounts are inactive and researchers are finding that many new users never do anything with their accounts. It’s a typical marketing phenomenon, the cool social network site goes mainstream and the masses inevitably kill it.
It’s not gone – not by a long shot – but don’t be surprised if the five and a half year old doesn’t make it to adolescence without some serious upgrades and advances (like its rivals Google+ and Facebook have been doing recently). Given the competition, and our kindergarten-like attention spans, most of us will hardly dedicate ourselves to any one communications medium for too long without the promise of new and improved.