Saturday, November 23, 2013

Why Twitter makes life on the Internet easier

It goes without saying that the Internet is an invaluable resource, and Twitter is one of the most influential Internet companies (along with meta-brands like Google and Facebook) that are defining how we all relate to one another on this vastly interconnected global network. Twitter is one of these companies. It’s been at the epicenter of major political uprisings for more than two years now (Arab Spring and other movements), and rivals both YouTube and Facebook as the number one source for cultural content on the web.

That being said, Twitter is not without its faults. One issue is how hard it can be for someone to navigate their list of followers and people they follow, what groups they are a part of, what they’re friends are doing, etc. This can lead to a lot of anxiety, and as a 20-something trying to navigate myself through this crazy world, I’m not an exception.

Here are a couple reasons why you should embrace Twitter and not fear it.

It makes contacting people easier

  • Communication is brief (140 characters or less).
  • It forces you to come up with something quickly, if not concisely.
  • Twitter is compatible with essentially all other social apps.

It broadens your social network

  • On your Twitter stream, what your friends say can be directly followed by what your favorite artist, humanitarian cause, or blog has to say about their day or upcoming events.
  • It’s very easy to connect from one article to another.

You can appeal to different parts of your audience

  • Everybody relates to the Internet differently.
  • Those who do not like long articles may appreciate brief synopses, short jokes, poetry, aphorisms, etc.
  • Those who do not like its brevity will appreciate the rapid generation of new content.
  • It’s easy to adjust your friend network without fear of repercussions (most twitter accounts are public and thus viewable to anyone on the internet).

This is just a rough outline of why Twitter is such a good resource. I’ll get into a more specific analysis in my next article, where I discuss Twitter’s efficacy in aiding social transformation. But for now, if you have a Twitter account and you’re wondering how to make more use of it I would suggest doing at least one of these things.

If you have a cause you’re passionate about, follow it online and read through what they have to say. Odds are you’ll learn something you didn’t know before. After all, isn’t that what the Internet is all about?

- Alex Curtis

Friday, November 15, 2013

Bad Online Habits

Being informed is important. The Internet is widely used and journalism is spread throughout the information superhighway. There are a dozen different ways to get your content and stay engaged with current events and important social issues. This is all very fine and good. A bad habit that I can still see though is the almost dogmatic adherence to specific news organizations/journals/political blogs, etc.

The same bad habits that apply to traditional news consumption (sticking to one particular news outlet let MSNBC or Fox News) apply to the proliferation of content options on the Web. No matter how many facts are really out there, people are going to remain uninformed, to a degree.

,p>Multitasking as we all know can be distracting. This is another habit so ubiquitous that it is taken for granted as part of the 'new age' of Internet culture. For example, listening to an entire musical artist's discography while writing a paper due the next day and chatting with friends about the upcoming weekend's events can be seen as a normal evening's workload. This is surprising, even to me as someone who practices against these habits but so frequently falls into them. This is indicative of a lot of things, about the Internet and it's users, but what I see most clearly in it is a proliferation of the instant access and incredible speed at which the Internet can provide whatever anyone on it--or in it, around it--is looking for. A problem that comes up with this though, is that there is there is so much that I want and no way to choose.