Happy Birthday to Twitter, now nine years old

When Twitter founder Jack Dorsey sent the first tweet on March 21, 2006, the service was called Twttr and his first tweet was no more inspired than most of the other first tweets that would follow:

I was an early Twitter; my first Tweet wouldn’t come until January of 2009. It took me awhile to see the value. Now, some 30,600 tweets later from my personal account and 6,362 tweets later from my business account, the value is clear.

Twitter has its downsides. It has helped reduce our attention spans and ability to focus, constantly checking for updates. The speed to publish has led to many a regret. The campaigns of politicians have been torpedoed, and regular people have lost their jobs over ill-considered tweets.

Surely though these are outweighed by the upsides. Now anyone can build and reach an audience; the power of the press no longer belongs just to those that own one. We have a window into the lives of celebrities and politicians, and media can provide more colour on current events that can’t make it into news copy. It’s easier than ever to keep up on current events, even if, at times, the volume can be overwhelming.

And marketers have a powerful new tool to reach their customers. On the other hand, customers have a powerful new tool to express their displeasure with a brand, creating lots of work for brand managers and customer service departments.

Twitter’s impact has often been overstated. Many claim it is making/will make/has made the news media irrelevant. This ignores the fact that traditional media is the source of most news shared on Twitter. Its record for accuracy around breaking news is spotty at best – in fairness, so is that of traditional media recently.

Perhaps the best example of Twitter’s impact is outside North America; Twitter and other social media are often the first things blocked by repressive regimes, as they’re a powerful tool for dissidents to share information and organize in a society where the media are controlled by the government.

From the folks at Twitter, here are a few memorable moments from the last nine years of tweets.

  • The birth of the #hashtag

  • NASA found water on Mars

  • A witness to breaking news

  • Reelection for U.S. President Barrack Obama

  • The Oscar selfie

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada
Jeff Jedras
Jeff Jedras
Jeff Jedras is a technology journalist with IT World Canada and a member of the IT Business team. He began his career in technology journalism in the late 1990s, covering the Ottawa technology sector for Silicon Valley North and the Ottawa Business Journal. He later covered the technology scene in Vancouver before joining IT World Canada in Toronto in 2005, covering enterprise IT for ComputerWorld Canada and the channel for Computer Dealer News. His writing has also appeared in the Vancouver Sun & the Ottawa Citizen.

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