The new year came about in slightly odd style for me, confined as I was to bed with a reasonably decent hot toddy. Similarly the news that one Rupert Murdoch had joined twitter caused much consternation. Mostly I was just shocked that it either wasn’t a fake or had managed somehow to fake it’s way into being verified. The fact that it has since proven to be real has, I must say, actually given me some respect for the man. Many a senior employee in many a company would do well to engage with the future rather than rail against it.
So, when did I first join twitter? And why? Well it’s almost four and a half years ago now, or 13,639 tweets ago. My friend Ian (@maniacyak) had recently joined and had been mentioning it for some time. I was massively sceptical as to why I would use twitter when the only use I could see for it was updating my FaceBook status. I couldn’t see the use in yet another social network. Here’s my first tweet:
plotting how to use 240 litres of compost
— Alex Ingram (@nuttyxander) June 13, 2007
Boring, isn’t it? It drew comments on FaceBook and no response whatsoever on twitter. I duly followed @maniacyak back for snaring me in and then a few of my other friends joined over the coming months, but I hit a problem. I had nothing interesting to say I wouldn’t rather blog or place on FaceBook, and not enough interesting people to say it to or to read things from. I’d log on to twitter.com every so often read the few tweets that had appeared since I last logged on and then leave.
I didn’t tweet properly until part-way through the following year, 2008, when I finally realised that a few more people were joining. There were two things that held me back from tweeting much at that time, the lack of an audience and the lack of a client. Now, sure twitter had a mobile website of sorts, but I had a paltry Nokia N80 then a reasonable Nokia N95 8GB. It was only by the spring of 2009 that a twitter client of any quality appeared on the Nokia platform in the guise of Gravity.
Maybe I am laying on the “you young kids, I had it hard in my day stuff here” heavy but I do find it interesting that the first two years I used twitter I had to use it without an app. Indeed, at one point I was sat away from an internet connection wanting to tweet but being unable and did this:
This and some of the things I used to post on this blog make me realise now that on reflection I always had plenty of things that would have been well expressed on twitter but just didn’t have the network or the apps to do it with. Witness, for example my comprehensive blog response to 9/11 or the phlog I updated when I first moved to London which frankly would have been a lot better on twitter.
It’s striking to me just how complete twitter is now, and how obvious it seems in retrospect. The whole system achieves a lot and I do puzzle at those who haven’t found some use for it, not necessarily that they might use it just as I do, especially as that changes from month to month. Much as FaceBook hit a point where suddenly it seemed like it was rare to find someone without an account rather than with, twitter has in the past year started to feel like it was a complete network.
There’s a flip side to this. Many of us who’ve been on twitter a while have felt safe in it as some kind of tech-savvy web-savvy haven which goes up against the mainstream. Well, bad news, for a while now it’s just been another tool everyone uses. Folk like Rupert Murdoch will join in their masses throughout this year, but there’s nothing wrong in that. Likewise, I fear twitter has of late uncorked my thinking, writing, expressive internet muse and I’ll be blogging a bit more regular again. Might be something wrong in that. There was an argument in here somewhere…
Twitter’s great isn’t it?