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The Twitter Phenomenon -- In Touch, Always, in Cyberspace

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By Kathleen Parker
Wednesday, December 3, 2008

"I have discovered that all human evil comes from this, man's being unable to sit still in a room."

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-- Blaise Pascal

We are sitting in a restaurant, sipping wine and chatting, when my friend begins twittering.

Not in the usual way. Two women twittering turn no heads. Rather, she is "twittering" via her iPhone, typing out a message to subscribers who inhabit the quantum universe of blogs, URLs and spheres.

For those who still commune by glance and gesture, "to twitter" roughly means to express an abbreviated thought or observation in real time to a live, self-selecting audience of brain voyeurs. People who want to know your every cogitation and sign up for the privilege.

Shorter than a blog posting, a "tweet" consists of a concise sentence or two and essentially answers the question: What are you doing?

Often, the answer is not riveting, as in: "Getting ready for work." Other times, as in the recent election, twitterers have been put to constructive use, such as reporting possible poll shenanigans.

Under ideal circumstances, a tweet would offer something insightful -- or newsy, such as: "Rahm Emanuel just walked in."

As, in fact, he did the evening of my twit-initiation. Instantly, my friend's twitterees -- all 5,000 of them -- knew what she knew and were, for what it was worth, As Good As There.

In the Information Age: Knowing equals Being.

Twittering isn't entirely new, of course. The Facebook generation has been sort of twittering for years, posting prosaic bulletins about their whims and whereabouts, providing a glimpse of what the world would be like if hummingbirds could type:

"Jordan is busy busy!"


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