Twitter assumes that the most relevant information is the most recent information. Twitter amplifies this by publishing a list of current trending topics based on an analysis of the latest tweets. A word or phrase can trend when a significant number of people start tweeting about that word or phrase. For example, during the Urbana 2012 conference, “#u12” became the number one trend in the St Louis area for most of the conference in fact there were nearly 40,000 tweets on the hashtag or about seven tweets per minute around the clock for the duration of the event.
In the case of the Boston Marathon, Twitter’s trending feature was able to announce the bombing to the world before any traditional media. The spectators at the marathon became the news reporters. With cell phones in hand they were able to capture the actual explosions and everyone’s response. I saw one video where a man began a running commentary while he was running around trying to help people. In a postmodern world where we increasingly are suspect of authorities we can now get our news from eyewitness accounts that we can see with our own eyes.
Twitter assumes that everyone has something important to add to the global conversation. Anyone can barge in. By watching the trends, you could tweet something that includes the current popular phrase that will be seen by everyone watching that trend. One of the best examples of this is during political debates, anyone can tweet an opinion on the #debate hashtag, thereby joining the public conversation. In the past, we were limited to expert commentaries from a particular newspaper or television station that were likely to be biased. Now, Twitter creates space for people from every political viewpoint to post fact checks, opinions and add commentary on the debates. Some of those tweets will be retweeted and seen by people who weren’t even watching the debate live on twitter or television.
In 2011, political protesters used Google and Twitter to tell the world about their cause to overthrow the corrupt government. Using a new technology SayNow, Egyptians could simply leave a voicemail on an international number listed on Google’s blog, which were then instantly turned into tweets. Similarly, many of the images of violence were first published on Twitter.
What do you assume about the world?
Do you get caught up in the latest news?
Can everyone be right at the same time?