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Communications of the ACM

ACM Opinion

Why Twitter Will Endure

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I can remember when I first thought seriously about Twitter. Last March, I was at the SXSW conference in Austin, Tex., where technology, media and music are mashed up and reimagined, and, not so coincidentally, where Twitter first rolled out in 2007. As someone who was oversubscribed on Facebook, overwhelmed by the computer-generated RSS feeds of news that came flying at me, and swamped by incoming email messages, the last thing I wanted was one more Web-borne intrusion into my life.

And then there was the name. Twitter.

In the pantheon of digital nomenclature—brands within a sector of the economy that grew so fast that all the sensible names were quickly taken—it would be hard to come up with a noun more trite than Twitter. It impugns itself, promising something slight and inconsequential, yet another way to make hours disappear and have nothing to show for it. And just in case the noun is not sufficiently indicting, the verb, “to tweet” is even more embarrassing.

Beyond the dippy lingo, the idea that something intelligent, something worthy of mindshare, might occur in the space of 140 characters—Twitter’s parameters were set by what would fit in a text message on a phone—seems unlikely.

From The New York Times
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