I’ve been cynical about Twitter. I feel no need to have instant communication with my friends or family. I don’t need to know that they’re going to a movie or just had dinner at a restaurant. However, some recent online articles/videos have made me aware that Twitter is being used in a great many unexpected ways that move far beyond gossip.
Evan Williams, co-founder of Twitter, gave a talk in February at TED. Even he has been surprised by some of the ways in which people have used Twitter:
· During the San Diego wildfires, local residents, the fire department and the Red Cross used Twitter to identify trouble spots.
· A roaming barbecue truck uses Twitter to broadcast its current location, and people let each other know, via Twitter, where you can buy cheaper gas.
· You can set up your plants so that they twitter when they need water.
· You can raise thousands of dollars for charity.
DIYcity (there are Canadian groups in Toronto and Ottawa) is a tech movement aimed at discussing and building applications to address urban problems. Their first project, DIY Traffic, uses Twitter. Subscribers can send and receive traffic updates or query for the conditions on a specific street.
It’s fascinating to see how creative people can be and how great the human desire for communications really is. In a large, complex world, we still find ways to talk to each other and share information. And, perhaps even more important, we are using technology to achieve our goals rather than the reverse.