By Neyaz Farooquee
The way Twitter has grabbed the attention of populace in a short span of time since it was founded in 2006 is amazing. It got its five billionth post this week. An interactive site, ranked 13 by web information company Alexa, it gives a lot of space to its users to express themselves through micro-blogging. However, notwithstanding its utility and prominence, it is being labelled as a “non-serious” stuff.
In a study by a market research firm, Pear Analytics, 41% of about 3,000,000 daily postings on Twitter are just “babble”. It’s an enormous amount considering the fact that Twitter users are concentrated mostly in US, UK and few other countries.
Nishath Nizar, an active Twitter user, agrees with the finding. “I use Twitter because everyone is on Twitter.” Did he ever read or respond to Deputy External Affairs Minister Shashi Tharoor, celebrated, and perhaps most controversial, twitter user from India? “No! never. As I said I’m on it just because everyone else is on it,” Nizar adds.
“Twitter is a temporary phenomenon which will fade out soon. See the kind of postings it’s getting of late,” says Abhay Shankar, a Sociology scholar in Jamia Millia Islamia University, New Delhi. “It was a part of the initial revolution which Web 2.0 brought in. And the media hype sustained it,” he adds.
Mizaj Mammu, a graduate student of Applied Psychology in Delhi University, disagrees. “Just see the growth rate of Twitter and compare it with others'. It’s almost 1400 per cent a month, compared to 250 per cent of Facebook.” She adds, “Even if its 41 per cent postings are 'babble', it has served its purpose.”
If any tweeter (user) tweets (posts) on the site, its followers get that tweet through SMS and the post is updated at the website simultaneously. Referring to the extensive use of Twitter in the Iranian election crisis, Mammu adds further, “It’s quite an amazing and powerful concept of Citizen Journalism.”
Prof Devesh Pandey, who specialises in Development and Globalisation studies, thinks its popularity is due to its “only 140 character per posting.” He says, “People find it easier to read and write small and compact posts. So, whatever comes to their mind, its ‘tweeted’ by the easily available mean, say for example, SMS. In the process many posts are not ‘scholarly’ but somehow it shows how the Twitter has revolutionized the way people think, write and communicates.” With a smile he brings to notice he just used the word ‘tweeted’, past form of tweet.
Prof Pandey adds, “It’s a form of micro-blogging, but its effects are macro. Revolutions are taking place here, celebrities and fans are interacting through it. It’s even helping thieves know the where-about of master of their target home.”