Coverage of Twitter in the mainstream press has been divided, much as it is in general, between those who love it, and those who hate it. Two examples of these scenarios reared their heads in my RSS feed just now.
In the form of two journalists, penning their columns for the Sunday papers, the evangelist and the sceptic are displayed prominently. However, this time the sceptic might just be coming round to everyone’s favourite new service.
Bobbie Johnson, the Guardian’s San Fransisco based tech reporter is an advocate of the service, and he is in no doubt of Twitter’s importance in Iran today:
The site undoubtedly played a vital role in spreading the story from inside Iran to the outside world, as thousands of web users and mobile phone addicts passed on messages and pictures documenting events on the ground.
It is easy to overestimate Twitter’s value inside Iran, where word of mouth, phone calls and text messages were almost certainly more important in helping to organise rallies. But its influence in making the story global was very real.
All of this attention marked the latest high point in Twitter’s dizzying ascent, a rapid rise that has seen its crew of geeks find themselves at the heart of geopolitics more by accident than design.
As for the sceptic turend believer? Andrew Sullivan says:
IT was not, to put it mildly, a new technology I found impressive. Twitter, the social networking website, allows for only a tiny number of characters to be broadcast in each “tweet”, or message, and much of the early tweeting was being done by bored teens or Hollywood celebrities: the illiterate speaking to the impatient.
Well, the last laugh is on me. As I have spent the past week hunched over a laptop, channelling and broadcasting as much information, video and debate about the momentous events in Iran, nothing quite captured the mood and pace of events like the tweets coming from the people of Iran.
So if those who were unsure about Twitter‘s worth are now being turned, where does the service go next?
The Huffington Post, the poster-child of web 2.0/3.0 published this piece by Rachel Sklar, who says it’s time for Twitter to grow up:
Seeing how easy it has been to use Twitter for good has exposed the double-edged sword of how easy it could be to co-opt. (The dummy Iranian protest feeds are one example of this.) Twitter is an astounding platform for information, but it’s a total blank slate — which means it’s an astounding platform for disinformation, too. They need to make money so they can hire more people to monitor all of this — never mind all the problems they haven’t even thought of yet.
Twitter is an amazing public tool with an incredible capacity for public good. We don’t need the State Department to tell us that — and neither should Twitter. Welcome to adulthood, kiddo.
And, like any youth hitting adulthood, there are sure to be growing pains anytime soon.