Let’s take a look at the word Agora. It’s a simple word, well within Twitter’s cap of 140 characters. What it means, literally, is the place for people to gather and share information of the day’s happening.
That was in Greece. The ancient Greeks congregated at what they called the Agora to share the news of the day with each other. The invention of printing news changed that. It spawned broadcast media of various kinds that are essentially one-way.
Now, social media such as Twitter has turned back the clock. They are the Agora of today, a place on the Internet, instead of a physical location, where people gather to get information, as well as to share them.
Tour around the platform and you will get a general idea. The tweets vary from heartfelt confession, mindless spams, up-to-date status report to many other trivial to major happenings across the globe. At any one time, up to 400 million tweets are posted daily.
Faster than Light
Today, in 2013, people are more reliant on twitter than ever before. The effects generated by a mere tweet could be felt across all sectors and the consequences are massive. It could cripple the financial sector, as shown by the fact a hacked Associate Press account sent out a tweet that sent Dow Jones Index tumbling and Standard & Poor’s 500 Index reeling, erasing hundreds of billion off the books. Hacking or not, the fact remains. An erroneous dissemination of information with the power of great influence has the potential to disrupt the entire system. In the case of social media, the effect would be felt even faster. At lightning speed. The near-instantaneous spread of information is critical to the swift rise of this platform. Twitter has become an indispensable tool, when New Yorkers turned to this social media for news, updates, and reports when their television sets went down during hurricane sandy.
The hacking incident was not an isolated case. It has happened, and there’s no guarantee it won’t happen again in the future. On the contrary, it seems the likelihood of someone spreading wrongful information is going to shoot up, whatever their intent may be. Just like the Associate Press incident, the market will recover. It doesn’t however, masked the fact that damage has been done.
It remains how, short of saying how much vital information can one actually fit into the 140 character limit for the post to remain relevant and concise. We are used to long-form articles, in-depth views of how, what and why on the particular subject. Reduce everything to just a couple of sentences is not the fundamental idea of Twitter. Engaging discussions are to be taken elsewhere, like Branch, Quora, App.net and the likes. Twitter has erected a platform for information to be exchanged in real-time, and this is the core of its service. It doesn’t create, it doesn’t curate. Content comes from its users.
We are living in an era where we are constantly craving for more news to consume. Bite-size information are welcomed. We don’t want the traditional long-form articles with in-depth coverage of events and happenings. We want headline news with brief description to fuel our wants to be up-to-date with every happening, whether it concerns us or not is not relevant.
As our current generation grows up, these are the group that are exposed to mediums such as Twitter from a young age and cultivated habits from the environment. The children of today will grow up to be the adults of tomorrow that are actively hunting for more content to digest. This group, however informed they may be, are shallow at the core. They are at the mercy of what the media and reports want them to behave, to think, to act. As they consume more and more, read what’s similar across different sources of media, ideas are implanted into their mind through the words of other people. They don’t stop and think, because the only form of validation comes from the opinion of other influencers. If enough people tweet this, reblog this, like this and comment on this, it must be positive.
New with Old
Twitter has grown to more than just a tech giant. It is a major power in the news channel. As it evolves and shape up, it’s interesting to note how this platform harness the power of Internet to pioneer a new way of communication that has traces of the ancient Greek genetics.