What is twitter?

December 1st, 2010

Twitter has stopped being “What are you doing?” and started being “look at this!” Sometimes, this is me, this is you or this is that. Whatever the this, it’s exactly an object of search.

Twitter is generating a massive search database of human recommendation, observation and wisdom. As its reach expands, the pile of tweets grows exponentially. Each tweet contains a nugget of wisdom/insight, audience information and re-tweet statistics. Piece by piece, one tweet at a time, Twitter is assembling a mosaic picture of the combination of internet content and human interaction.

Although many early adopters treat the new toolset as if it were the old tool set, there is not really a top or a bottom to the Twitter hierarchy. Credibility is a function of your social circle, your community. Each person lives in a set of overlapping characters. No two views of the world are precisely identical. Twitter captures this information and all of its implications. The result is a structure for a database that describes internet content with actor-specific recommendations, insight and wisdom.

At real scale (say 20 or 30 million million users), Twitter represents something entirely other than it is today. As the data gets huge, we’ll begin to have a map of the social genome. Although it won’t perfectly reflect the actual relationships of our daily lives, it will be close enough. The variance in the first generation will have to do with the degree to which people are adopting communications technology. Eventually, those differences dissipate.

Google was right about search. Twitter is right about the aggregate power of microscopic bits of insight. Twitter represents the next generation of the internet because it effectively integrates people into the process. Move over Wikipedia.

As we interact with each other, we leave tiny traces of information, Clickstreams, branding, a link, a jotted note. That’s where most human value is created. Twitter represents the first real opportunity to harness the full capacity if the species.

When we can start to see the interactive patterns of the social genome, we’ll overlay the physical data. Biometrics and behavioral data, which will come to dominate the internet, will blend with Social Genome mapping. The result? Ever improving insight into the world we occupy and applications we can’t begin to imagine.

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