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Sunday, February 22, 2009

Twitter Nation Has Arrived: How Scared Should We Be?

Welcome to Twitter Nation. What was once an easily avoided subculture of needy and annoying online souls is now a growing part of the social and media landscapes, with Twittering tentacles reaching into the operations of major newspapers, networks, corporations and political campaigns.
Suddenly, our skies are dark with brightly colored cartoon birds. As in a nightmare, they are everywhere.

This has all happened very fast. It was less than three years ago that Twitter hatched as a harmless Web 2.0 curio modeled on Facebook's status-update feature. Twitter offered people a forum devoted exclusively to short blog entries known as "tweets," most of which answer the company's tagline question, "What are you doing?"

By mid-2008, the San Francisco-based site was garnering feature coverage in national magazines and batting away $500 million buyout offers. With nearly 6 million users and counting, it is now on a Plaguelike pace to obliterate last year's growth clip of 900 percent. Twitter is growing so fast that 2009 may come to be known not as the year America swore in its first black president or nationalized the banks, but the year America learned to think and communicate in 140 characters or fewer.


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