Originally posted 14 February 2009.
I am not sure how I feel about the ever-expanding popularity of Twitter. Now that it has been publicised in the UK by celebrity fans such as Stephen Fry and Jonathan Ross, there is a lot of band-wagon jumping from people who have heard the name, want to seem well informed, but have no real desire to understand the myriad possibilities of such a simple system, originally designed for silicon valley dwellers.
Whilst Facebook allowed you to find out exceptionally private personal information about people you had no connection with other than going to the same school, and LinkedIn helps aspiring dragons of the world of commerce network with the supply chain (well I think its that dull), Twitter allows the individual to be who they want to be, or perhaps become the wittiest and most ascerbic version of themselves.
More voyeuristically, Twitter enables Joe Bloggs to see and vet the candid personal thoughts and view private photographs of those celebrities most people would not get the chance to relate to (well not without shortly receiving a restrainging order at least) on an everyday basis. It is hilarious to see Demi Moore's candid personal photos of her and Ashton Kutcher in Berlin (in fact, I even saw a paparazzi photo of Ashton taking a self portrait photo with his iphone - that is the kind of subversive post-modern behaviour I certainly wouldn't expect from the creator of Punk'd). Its almost heartwarming that those in the entertainment business are quite happy to be so very candid, although to what extent agents will get involved remins to be seen.
There are inevitably problems, faked profiles (there are a lot of 'real' twitter names now, as if that will solve the problem), those purporting to be life changing (e.g. @barackobama) when they are actually written by staff members, and celebs missing the concept entirely (one very lovely, but not in any way riveting TV presenter gives 2 hour updates of literally where they are rather than how they feel about, say Zimbabwean election results); but as a whole, the concept is one that should be embraced by entertainers. It gives them another forum for showing off their skills (comedians such as Rob Brydon showing that funny can be found in 140 characters) and for some blatant self promotion (I'm gigging here this evening and 10 miles away tomorrow, and 20 miles away next week...)
I also recommend people visit @philjupitus's profile. He is a bright man, taking the concept and running very quickly down a comedy corridor. Phil has invented a Twitter sign so those who only know each other through the semi-anonymity of the Net can recognise one another in....wait for it....real life. Its a little like a secret handshake, both parodying Twitter and using it for amusement. His efforts are currently on Twitter and Youtube.
The only problem with this, as well as with the 3rd Twestival which took place last week, is thus:
Ask yourself, do you really want to meet all your 'followers' and 'following' in real life? I am sure that if you do, at least one party will only end up disappointed......