Photo Linked From: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/d/d2/Evan-Williams.jpg/250px-Evan-Williams.jpg
Story by Ashley Coulombe, Media Giraffe Project Student Researcher
Twitter.com has become the new wave in internet journalism, citizen journalism, and, in this election year, it became an interesting and somewhat effective way for journalists to cover the campaign trail. A relatively new (but rapidly growing) site, Twitter has spawned a generation of citizen journalists, as well as some new terms like "twittering" (posting to the site, especially on a frequent basis like during a debate) and "tweetes" (users updates.
In March of 2006, Twitter was an internal research and development tool used by employees at a start-up company called Obvious. The official site launched in October of that year. You can read more about its start in an Obvious blog post here. However, it wasn't until April 2007 that Twitter, Inc. became its own entity from Obvious.
Jack Dorsey, Biz Stone, and Evan Williams are credited with co-creating Twitter. There is also now a Twitter Directory for all of the site's users. As of today, there are over 3.1 million people signed up with a Twitter account.
Twitter has many uses. It can be a social-networking tool - it's very similar to the Facebook status. Many journalists and their respective media outlets are now using twitter as a live blogging tool to either cover events or link to news stories. The NY Times reported today that the State Department is also beginning to use Twitter to post country profiles and travel advisories.
It's use has not been without controversy, however. Recently the Rocky Mountain News was criticized for Twittering at a three year-olds funeral. Many questioned whether it was taking it just one step too far.
Despite the few controversies over its use, there is no doubt that Twitter has become a fun and sometimes useful site for all (as long as they can update in just 140 characters). While the site continues to grow, newspapers must decide where to draw the line with its use and add it to their list of internet ethical conundrums. It will be interesting to see whether or not Twitter is just a fad or a site that will make a lasting impact on (citizen) journalism.
June 18, 2009. In response to the media's focus on the role of Twitter in Iran, both Slate and Salon had stories today downplaying its role:
March 6, 2009, Slate article considers how Twitter could compete with Google or Facebook. The article ponders how the real time results for Twitter could produce a live, searchable database made up of real people, and what that could mean for the news. For now, what that means is a messy assortment of unfounded statements---something that won't outdo a Google search.
February 11, 2009, in this New York Times article, writer David Pogue talks about joining in with Twitter crowd (a little late), and considers some of the surprising ways Twitter has come in handy. He says that despite all the press, it's still an early adapter technology, and despite all the uses, it can still be--like the rest of the social networks--mostly a time drain.
MGP's Ashley Coulombe discusses twittering the presidential debate for class in this October 7, 2008 blog post.
October 8, 2008 Slate article by Chadwick Matlin discusses the sustainability model for Twitter, mainly noticing that there isn't one. The article considers the difficulties in figuring out how to make money while retaining the vital street-cred: