When did our society become obsessed with everyone else? When did we spend so much time focusing on what our neighbors are doing? Why do we feel the need, at the same time, to broadcast every minute detail of our own lives? Maybe the obsession started with facebook? But then again, maybe it started with reality television and the idea that every day people can become celebrities. It's the idea that our lives are fascinating and that surely everyone should be interested in our daily activities. No matter where this craze originated, it is true that as a society we have turned the spotlight on ourselves and there is no greater indication of people-obsession than the micro-blogging fascination of twitter.
According to the website itself, Twitter "is a real-time information network that connects you to the latest information about what you find interesting. Simply find the public streams you find most compelling and follow the conversations" (twitter). Twitter began in July 2006 by founder Jack Dorsey of the Odeo podcasting company. It was the product of a brainstorming session of how to communicate within a small group and keep others informed. According to Dorsey, the name twitter "was just perfect. The definition was 'a short burst of inconsequential information,' and 'chirps from birds.' And that’s exactly what the product was" (wikipedia). According to their website, to date, twitter has a 175 million registered users and 300 current employees.
While your average citizen has begun to get on board this cyber phenemenon, leave it to the celebrities to pave the way. Brittney Spears, Shaquille O'Neil, John Cleese, Al Gore, MC Hammer, Dave Matthews, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and even Lance Armstrong are among the extensive list of celebrities and public figures finding themselves a part of the micro-blogging fun. Many musial artists and comedians find it to be one of the very best ways to keep in constant contce with their fans while ensuring their stay in the public spotlight.
But, what are the real benefits of micro-blogging? Or is it just a fun way to continue our obsession with keeping each other updated? Are their benefits to the classroom? More to come in a bit...