Like many publications in most industries, our magazines began engaging full-force in the “social media” world a couple of months ago. We are, after all, a communications vehicle, and we represent a certain interest group, a.k.a. “community,” namely, professional woodworkers. So we created a Facebook page, started a Twitter account and renewed our efforts at regular blogging.
I don’t think that I am speaking out of turn if I say that with the exception of those on the staff who were in their 20s, the Twitter thing especially was totally new. “The youngsters” got us started and, amidst some giggles over silly-sounding terms like “tweets,” we threw ourselves wholeheartedly into the fray, posting all manner of important, interesting or just amusing items we thought industry members would enjoy seeing.
We started getting followers. We figured out how to make tiny urls, do direct responses to people who commented, delete the occasional pornographic posting by an outsider and even got some useful information back. Those of us older than 20 also got the side benefit of impressing our friends and acquaintances with the fact that we know what Twitter is. We began explaining it to others and feeling very hip. Still, my view of the entire process was pretty much a) understanding why we should be involved in such efforts, but also b) considering such efforts as being more for young people who don’t have more important things to do.
That was before now, with the Iran elections happening. My view has changed considerably.
I am astounded, and humbled, to realize the impact Twitter is having as a communication tool, enabling people to broadcast their news to the world in a manner that apparently cannot be silenced too easily. Television broadcasts can be stopped and transmissions jammed. Journalists’ press credentials can be revoked. But people with a cell phone can keep on tweeting, and retweets multiply exponentially to spread news around the globe almost instantaneously.
It may be a mish-mosh of extraneous information, but what a powerful venue for getting news out, and it’s free and pretty much open to everyone. #iranelection at Twitter has had more than 25,000 postings in the past 7 hours, and that is just one account. I am amazed — and I’m not giggling at Twitter anymore.
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