April 26, 2008

Twitter and the Dinosaur

On the days when I feel like a total technology dinosaur, I've found myself completely mystified by Twitter. I've heard people raving about it, but have always been left with the same three questions:

1. Who has the time to send updates?
2. Who has the time to read them?
3. Who (other than a mother) actually cares about the minutiae of another person's life?

Today, even this dinosaur began to comprehend the potential power of Twitter when I read the story of James Karl Buck who used Twitter to let his network know that he had been arrested in Egypt. Here's an excerpt from the summary from CNN:

On his way to the police station, Buck took out his cell phone and sent a message to his friends and contacts using the micro-blogging site Twitter.

The message only had one word. "Arrested."

Within seconds, colleagues in the United States and his blogger-friends in Egypt -- the same ones who had taught him the tool only a week earlier -- were alerted that he was being held.

Buck's network then acted to spread news of his circumstances and help win his release. It's a great story that depended on one piece of good luck -- the police let Buck keep his cellphone.

So, while I mostly still don't want to know that you're about to go to a movie or have just had lunch, news of your arrest probably would rouse this dinosaur. Maybe it's time for me to take another look at Twitter...

PS: Look out for the inevitable blogpile on this story. It will be hard to avoid.


Anonymous said...

Hi Mary
I am halfway through writing a blog post asking almost those same three questions, although it was the use of twitter in a conference setting that got me thinking. (http://www.web-strategist.com/blog

I'm still not sure how I could use twitter, but it has got me thinking...

Mary Abraham said...

Hi Mick:

Here's another question to ponder: Why have so many people decided that they have the time, energy and interest to devote to Twitter?

- Mary