Sunday, June 28, 2009

OMG, Twitter is Useful

Although I still haven't "got a Twitter", and have no plans for "tweeting" in the very near future, I have come to the conclusion that the entire enterprise is not an utter waste of time. I remain sensitive to the prospect that serial texting isn't necessarily the best thing that has ever happened to literacy, or socialization, or motor safety, but the evidence to date pulls in both directions, and often defies intuition.

What's obvious is that there's no amount of language policing or Luddism that can hold back the tide of communicators going about communicating their various communications however they damned well please to communicate them. One of the reasons for the "micro-blogging" portal's seeming overnight success is the very immediacy of it. Giants like Google that were able to organize the pandemonium of such widely dispersed web content that fills the intertubes into easily referenced chunks did so by extracting relevance from search patterns that take at least some appreciable time to develop. Twitter, with its constant flow of real-time updates on all matters large and small, has managed to become as much of "the pulse of the internet" as we've yet seen.

Forget Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore. (Seriously, try.) Never mind the ceaseless waves of narcissism that crash upon the weathered beach of basic human dignity daily. The purest expression of Twitter's potential as a medium in its own right with any redeeming value must be when the State Department prevailed on the San Francisco-based social networking site to delay a scheduled update that would have thrown a wet blanket on thousands of brave Iranian protestors just as their arsenal of cell phone cameras and texting pads were landing some blows on the hirsute chins of the Islamic Republic's ruling elite.

It's a perfect demonstration of the futility any fascist regime must face when matching 20th Century tecniques for suppression against more nimble 21st century technology. Worse still, for an outfit dedicated to the prospect of arresting or even reversing cultural evolution in a landscape so fecund for just that. Clearly, this generation of young Persians won't be flinging themselves into Iraqi landmines.

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