People first, everything else second
You’ve changed, Twitter.
A while ago, you were just about what I was doing. Heck, you still ask the question everytime I login. Your interface has changed a little bit, and gotten a little more AJAX-y. You changed your e-mail notifications.
You added Ashton, and Oprah, and hell, even an astronaut. You got someone to a million followers, helped to started fried grilled chicken riots, gave Motrin a big headache, taught Domino’s the brand damaging potential of social media, and then let them redeem themselves. You allowed people to voice their opinions about #amazonfail, and then just a few weeks later, lust after the Kindle DX live.
You helped the jobless and job weary at LaidOffCamp’s in LA and NY, at Pink Slip parties nationwide, and helped bring people together in numerous BarCamps, PR for Startups, and Digital Dumbo. You’ve attempted to save TV shows. You let people opine about “geekdom”.
You’ve given me an amazing list of friends and confidants (that’s just a REALLY small subset) from around the world. You’ve given me the chance to get up to speak here and here, and inspired me to teach this and gave me an amazing group of guest speakers to speak here.
So what’s worrying me then?
It’s the simple fact, that underneath all of this, the underpinning of this, is people. Nevermind, the celebrity stuff, and the brand / PR stuff, and even the goodwill stuff, and how exactly Twitter has changed (I’d argue for the better of course). I worry that ordinary people are getting forgotten in the groundswell. Twitter’s great because it’s new and it’s buzzy and it’s cool. But the real magic behind Twitter has existed for a very long time.
People. The value they offer. The connections they make. No gimmicks. No schemes. Just conversation.
The “rest of the world” is just now starting to understand the ability to connections that people make online, and have been making for a long time. As technology adapts, communication adapts. People adapt. It’s our shared responsibility to remember the value of these connections in a platform agnostic way.
We call this “social media” now. But “social media” has existed for a very long time. These connections have lived through BBSes, AOL, GEnie, CompuServe, Prodigy, MSN, Email, IRC, MOOs/MUDs, listserv, discussion boards, cellphones, video dating services, the telephone, morse code, telegraphs, letters. The medium changes, but people and their need to connect remain constant.
And as some point, as we all probably would wager, Twitter will be replaced by something else. But people, will never change. So never forget that. So practice. Harness the power of making connections. On Twitter, via email, through conversation. Say “Hi” to someone you’d like to learn more about. You’ll be continuing a long tradition. And you’ll make a few new friends too.