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Twitter: A Brave New World in the Digital Panopticon

Mar 30, 2009 By Karsten Januszewski

Having just returned from SxSW Interactive and Mix09, Twitter was pervasive. Some observations:

  • On several occasions, I would meet somebody and, rather than exchanging business cards, I would be asked on the spot for my Twitter ID and the person would immediately start following me via their cellphone.
  • When I did actually get a business card, it often contained the person’s Twitter ID right on the business card.  
  • I was contacted via Direct Message (DM) through Twitter as often as I was through email.
  • I constantly saw Twitter clients and/or the Twitter webpage open on people’s laptops during the show. 
  • I finally “got” Twitter replies. There is the obvious thing that you can’t DM someone if they aren’t following you. But more interestingly, Twitter replies allow for a kind of public conversation, in the sense that I might want my reply to someone to be in public so that other people can see it, find it, etc. For example, we released Flotzam and somebody twittered about a bug they found in it. By replying to him to explain a workaround and also tagging the tweet Flotzam, somebody else who might be searching for problems around Flotzam would see our conversation.  Interesting.
  • Tagging tweets is a simple way to create an asynchronous chat room.  For example,we did a jQuery meet-up at Mix and during the meet-up,we were showing one another cool links and whatnot. The way we decided to share out both our contact information and all the links was to come up with a simple hash tag (#mix09jquery). We could then search for that hash tag ( and see all the links we shared as well as keep track of one another. 
  • The immediacy of is amazing.  I don’t think we understand its implications fully just yet.  But I now have multiple RSS feeds I subscribe to based on Twitter searches. Also, if you are interested in doing some programming around the Twitter search API, check out this blog post.
  • The Wikipedia entry on Twitter is pretty darned fascinating. Recommended reading.
  • I got hip to a new Twitter client, Blu, that is pretty cool. Very user friendly and also flexes WPF’s muscles nicely. Worth checking out. screens.png

So, what’s it all mean? Not really sure. But Twitter isn’t going away, that’s for sure.

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6 comments so far. You should leave one, too.

Karsten Januszewski said on Mar 30, 2009

Just found this, which another facet of Twitter

Petey said on Mar 31, 2009

Don''t be so sure that Twitter won''t be going away with it jumping the shark as we speak.

Perhaps it will be supplanted by something even more insidious, who can say? But technology moves so fast, nothing is safe. Even Facebook and Google should start looking over their shoulders.

Matthew Kane said on Mar 31, 2009

So why is there no link for me to tweet this post?

Karsten Januszewski said on Mar 31, 2009

@Petey: TwitterBacklash is hilarious! Nice find. And the other article was a good read, although I don''t agree with him. That hockey stick graph is just going to keep expotentially growing methinks. This piece ( was dead on as far my experience at SxSW. Speaking of which, I didn''t get a chance to mention the Bruce Sterling rant this year, in which he talked about "casually datamining all your tweets”. There Check him out for a good read on Web 2.0:

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