Twitter’s Growing Role

The scandalous Iranian elections are just the latest chapter in the growing multitude of uses people are finding to connect with twitter. I’ve used twitter for a while now and have truly believe it to be a revolutionary tool for gaining insight into the world’s collective mind. I’ve had plenty of friends sign up, post something along the lines of “I don’t get it.” and then never post again. Last week Slashdot covered the topic of these “One Tweet Wonders”, who sign up for the service and then leave it behind.

But it’s those who have embraced it that truly understand its potential. Sure, there’s plenty of meaningless crap (eg. anything i post, hehe), but the true power lies with two features: search, and trending topics.

Search, as it pertains to Twitter, doesn’t give you results that you could compare with, say Google. While the twitter search page [http://search.twitter.com] may vaguely resemble Google’s simple interface, a search won’t link you to sites about your topic, or the wikipedia entry. Instead, you find what human beings are thinking about that topic. Even the mundane details of everyday life, when organized through search, can give insight into what people are thinking. The Trending Topics (shown on the main search page) show you the most talked about topics across the system right then. Click on the links and you have instant response and commentary.

Twitter search gives you organic search. But it also gives you only a snapshot, and the most recent snapshot at that. While I’m sure there are ways out there to search through older moments in time, twitter’s search by default is telling you the results that are happening right now. It is instant, unfiltered, unedited content from regular people (with it’s own fair amount of spam included, of course).

This has become threatening to those who would like to control the flow of information. During terrorist attacks in Mumbai, the Indian government plead to its people to stop posting to twitter. In the past few days, with Iran expelling many foreign press with their election coming, people have turned to Twitter to communicate and organize their outrage at the perceived corrupt election. Twitter founder Biz Stone posted today that they will reschedule planned maintenance on the site because of the importance the site has in Iran right now.

Twitter gives people a platform to speak on. While individually it might seem small and meaningless, collectively it gives people a voice.

Back from the Vay Kay

It’s Monday and I’m back from a week off, which was spent driving to visit people and sleeping an incredibly large amount of time.

I have been spending some time trying to refresh my memory of a language I studied in college (german) for very little good reason other than I felt it was unfortunate to have absolutely no recollection of something I spent 3 semesters learning.

I got some sun, although much of the week was cold and/or rainy where I was.

I watched a hell of a lot of soccer in the past few weeks.  The UEFA Cup, the Champions League final, and the last week of the Premier League, with all the drama of relegation has really rekindled my love for the sport.  I thought it was remarkable that within the span of about 45 minutes, a week or so ago, I encountered three different people walking around campus with three different football kits on: Chelsea, Arsenal and Man U, plus I overheard a guy in line at Best Buy on the phone going on and on about how great a game FIFA 09 was (I didn’t find it quite that much fun, but soccer games never really did click with me).  I suppose it’s not just me who felt some football fever lately.

I picked up Fallout 3 on that trip to Best Buy, which I had not really read too much about, but I had heard it was a good game.  Within a couple minutes I realized this game was exactly Oblivion with a facelift.  Oblivion is a great game, which I spent countless hours and days playing when I first got my 360, so Fallout has a lot going for it already.  However it lost some of the charm of Oblivion.  Gone are the many various landscapes you find in the lands of Oblivion, replaced with a barren wasteland that stays barren.  The combat has the same frustrating and slow melee that was found in Oblivion (which Matt seemed to love, but I found aggravating), but adds to it with the interesting VATS slow motion combat system, and loads of guns and explosives.  I haven’t gone that far in the main story yet, but so far it’s at least had a much more varied vocal cast.  (Oblivion had like 4 people speaking for the hundreds of characters… it was distracting.)

But it’s back to the grind now, back to work and waking up early and going to bed at a reasonable time and all that.  It’s not so bad though, I can only stand doing nothing for so long.