Wednesday, April 24, 2013


Today is my “Twitterversary”: I joined Twitter on April 25, 2007—six years ago today. I don’t seem to have mentioned that before. I now mention it mostly in other ways.

I had a look through my blog archives, and the earliest post about it I could find was February 6, 2009, nearly two years after I joined. Twitter itself began in 2006, becoming publicly available in July of that year.

Twitter was the second social network I joined, after MySpace (I joined Facebook a few months after Twitter). My original plan was to use those social networks to promote my podcast. I did that for awhile, but Twitter was one of the first that I started using for other things—or, to put it another way, it was the probably the first that I stopped using to promote my podcast (although in those days I hardly used Facebook for anything). I set up a separate Twitter account for my AmeriNZ Podcast in December of 2009, and one for 2Political Podcast in July of 2010.

Over the years, I’ve tired other social networks, including several from Google: Buzz, Wave and Google+ (the first two are defunct), along with Diaspora and several podcast-specific ones. I stopped using MySpace pretty much when most everyone I knew did: When Rupert Murdoch bought it. But it’s only been in the past couple years that I’ve actually used Faceboook. I still use Google+.

However, Twitter has endured through all that, even if there were periods at the beginning when I’d go a very long time without signing in, much less Tweeting. As the service has grown, it’s gained some useful inventions that came primarily from users—especially “@” replies and hashtags. And that growing usability made me use it more.

I’ve watched quite a bit of history unfold in real-time: Storms and natural disasters here and overseas (including the Canterbury earthquakes, the fatal tornadoes here in Auckland’s North Shore and the Japanese earthquake), the Iranian rebellion, the Arab Spring, demonstrations all over the world. There has also been live commenting on live TV (including interesting things like the recent enactment of marriage equality in New Zealand). Some of it has been fascinating, even exciting, and of course a lot had been pretty banal. Still, I’ve enjoyed every minute—and when I didn’t I just closed Twitter for awhile.

I’ve also interacted with dozens and dozens (hundreds?) of people. Some of them I knew already, most of them I didn’t. Some I later met in real life. There was also one I’m sorry that I never got to meet. That human connection is part of what has kept Twitter fun for me.

In the early days, I sometimes got in Twitter arguments, until I realised how silly the very idea was. Now, I just have discussions that, even when the remarks are pointed, remain civil. One such sometimes-heated discussion had a very positive result.

I’ve also enjoyed the discipline of the 140 character limit—brevity being something I obviously pay little attention to on this blog. I enjoy being able to make an observation, wry remark or joke in 140 characters or less, and I know when I’ve done it well when the Tweet is Re-Tweeted (shared) or favourite. Instant feedback is part of the allure of social networks for me as it is for many people I know.

The image above is my first Tweet. Well, sort of: The image comes from a service called My First Tweet (not affiliated with Twitter). I retrieved it on my Second Twitterversary. I believe that the photo was what I was using at that time, not what I originally used (which, if memory serves, was my podcast album art). In any event, of you think the Tweet isn’t very spectacular, consider that the very first Tweet ever sent was “just setting up my twttr”, sent by Twitter co-founder, Jack Dorsey on March 26, 2006. In fact, the next 13 Tweets were all the same thing.

Twitter really is what you make of it. At the moment, I’ve made 29,289 Tweets, an average of about 13 1/3 per day. Some days I send a lot, like when a news event is happening. There are also periods in which I won’t send any at all for days. The future is likely to be more of the same.

And it will be Tweeted.

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