Is Twitter just babble?

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.”

Protests greet new VC

(Text and Pics by Neyaz A Farooquee)

To protest the death of a student of Jamia Millia Islamia in a bus accident, the University students held a demonstration here in the Campus today. A speeding blueline bus crushed Lalit, a 2nd year student of BTech, yesterday evening in the Campus.

The students started protesting soon after the accident and continued it throughout the night to demand compensation for the family of the victim. Proctor called-in Police to control the “agitating” students. Many students are seriously injured in the lathi-charge.

The new Vice-Chancellor Najeeb Jung, who joined 24 hours ago, addressed the students today and assured them of every possible help. Regarding students’ demand of 20 lakh as compensation to the family of victim, he said, "There can't be any compensation for life. Why demand 20 lakh, why not One Crore?"

He also informed the students that he has asked DCP, South Distt to come to his office to discuss the students’ complain that Police enters hostels even on slightest pretext with the complicity of Jamia administration.

The new VC being escorted to Open air theatre to address the students

VC, Najeeb Jung in consultation with other Authorities of Jamia

A two minute silent prayer for the deceased, Lalit

VC addressing Jamia students

Students gathered at Safdar Hashmi Open Air Theatre