Friday, January 28, 2011

A Twitter Epiphany? The Power of a Hash Tag (#jan25)

As America - on the East Coast anyway, including in Washington, DC - tucks up in bed, the sun is rising on Egypt. Which seems an appropriate time for @jg21 to briefly explain what I had in mind when resolving for the past 12 hours or so to re-Tweet as many of the comments and links flying around via Twitter as I found meaningful, informative, and (often) inspiring.

"Freedom of expression is a human right," blogged Twitter co-founder Biz Stone Friday, on Day Four of the blockage by the Egyptian government of Twitter and Facebook. And this was not mere opportunism by Stone, because it is the exact same thing that he said four months ago. Here is what he said already in September:

"Twitter isn't a triumph of technology it's a triumph of humanity. A more connected world leads to a more empathic world."

So that is the proposition I set out to test. Does Twitter really have the power to increase the sum total of empathy in this often troubled world? Call it, if you like, an exercise in "empathetic calculus."

One kind and co-hearted soul has already been kind enough to mention - via Twitter of course! - that my "barrage" (his word, but I make no objection!) of re-Tweets had an effect on her, and a good one:

#FF @jg21 for a barrage of #Jan25 & #Egypt Retweets. Reading about the situation in Egypt makes everything else seem... minuscule in scope."

In a follow up exchange, he was even kind enough to say "good work sir. We are in dire times. The horrors of the world cannot be hidden thx to technology. We are ALL of this world." So I feel that I haven't intruded in vain upon people's attention-span, even if my chosen means was a little front-on, I feel certain, for many people.

In a follow-up post over the weekend, I will try and analyze what my Twitter-fest did for me personally, as opposed to my Tweeps - whose forbearance I call out here and for which I shall be eternally grateful.

This much I can tell you in advance: it has been a transformative experience, so far as my view of microblogging is concerned.

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