Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Tweet Sweet !

And now it’s the era of brevity. The ess stands for not only short in SMS, but also simple, sweet, and smart. If simplicity is smart, then that is Twitter. That is what you get in Twitter. It is not another app like Facebook where you expose whole your life before an unknown audience. Everything is brief in this social medium.

Say, you meet up with friends for lunch and wandering for a good place to hang out. What is your option? You need to share your sentiments on some breaking news. What is your option? Gossiping about some pop idol... Keeping your closest allies posted on your whereabouts...

The answer, dear friend, is blowing in Twitter.

‘Tweet’ or ‘status update’

For smartphone users, it is simply a matter of keying the username and password in that little bluebird app called twitter. Once your particulars are accepted, boom... you are connected to the virtual world of restaurants, shout outs, parades, celebrity news, protests and many more.

Ever seen folks sitting, right next to each other, or opposite each other, glued to their smartphone? Yes, they must be tweeting with each other. That is zombie apocalypse. Their phones hardly lie within the comfortable confines of a handbag or rest on a table. They work almost every time.

It could be a cup of steaming coffee, and you are about to add sugar and cream. Immediately you decide to share that with the world. The coffee poses for a picture and travels across to Twitter, and here is what you call ‘tweet’ or ‘status update’ in more comfortable social media lingo.

More importantly, Twitter closes the gap between celebrities and their fans. It is platform to Bollywood legends such as Amitabh Bachchan (@AmitabhBachan) and statesmen such as Presidents Mahinda Rajapaksa (@PresRajapaksa) and Barack Obama (@BarackObama). Their staffs handle their accounts, while their personal tweets are signed as ‘MR’ and ‘-bo’. President Rajapaksa’s twitter account is updated in all three languages.

At Facebook, these public figures are linked with many fake accounts. Locating the official account of either President Rajapaksa or President Obama is a tougher nut to crack. Thankfully that ilk is not possible on Twitter, as each account has to contain authentic information coming right from the relevant personality.

Number one social network

But in Sri Lanka, Twitter is still lagging behind. Most Lankans, though they have Twitter accounts, do not tweet much. They enjoy posting family pictures and videos on Facebook more. Only a few chirpers have a lively dialogue going on their tweets. Secretary to President, Lalith Weeratunga (@askLW) and Mass Media Secretary Dr Charitha Herath (@charith9) are among them. Dr Herath would immediately update his tweet following any speech he delivers at a function.

Twitter has fast become the number one social network that allows people to voice what they have to say about a person, war, music, books and movies. It is a media network that breaks news faster than a news channel, allows people to debate on some sizzling topics that in turn go on breaking news, allows people to speak freely, it allows artists to promote their new song or album, actors to promote an awareness programme they are supporting and the fashion industry to tweet out their latest collection for the year.

As the social networks do not charge a cent for any of the updates, announcements, corporate companies have a time of their life having teaser promotions, asking fans to participate for special discounts and prizes, and increasing likes of their products.

Even smarter

Twitter remains upright in the social media platform. Smarter people opt for Twitter more than Facebook. With Twitter, the status update is only 140 characters. You need to manipulate and rework your linguistic skills to update your status in simply 140 characters, as its founder, Jack Dorsey, stated in within the word quota: ‘one could change the world with one hundred and forty characters.’ The Guardian found a platform for a play of words with this. They challenged well known writers such as Ian Rankin and Jeffrey Archer to pen in a 140-character story.

The most voted story belonged to Rankin: “I opened the door to our flat and you were standing there, cleaver raised. Somehow you’d found out about the photos. My jaw hit the floor.”

Interestingly, former English Cricketer Andrew Flintoff tweeted Rankin’s ‘The Impossible Dead’ as the ‘dullest book ever’ on his account.

Quite in contrast to Facebook, Twitter does not offer many options: no games, no videos, no photos and so on. That makes it even smarter. However, Facebook and Twitter reside in no rivalry. A tweet could appear as a Facebook status update too. The social media account receives 1.6 billion search queries per day. It is now one of the ten most visited websites, being baptized as ‘the SMS of the Internet.’

The project was initially named as ‘twitter’ as an SMS code name.

“...we came across the word ‘twitter’, and it was just perfect. The definition was ‘a short burst of inconsequential information,’ and ‘chirps from birds.’ And that’s exactly what the product was.” When Jack Dorsey explained how it will work, one of the Twitter’s architects cry memory hark, all his friends dropped cutlery and stopped eating. The idea had fascinated them. Dorsey defined this as a service that uses SMS to tell small groups what they do. Dorsey elaborated on how they phrased ‘Twitter’: “We came across the word ‘twitter’, and it was just perfect. The definition was ‘a short burst of inconsequential information’ and ‘chirps from birds.’ And that’s exactly what the product was.” by Demi Hewamanna and Sachitra Mahendra