Hexbyte Tech News Wired
When it came into being in 2006, Twitter seemed perplexing. Publishing teensy, 140-character updates? Whatever was that good for? Twitter seemed like a ghastly mashup of the preening narcissism and nanosecond attention spans that defined the worst trends in digital culture. Tim Ferriss, writer of productivity books, called it “pointless email on steroids.” Who cares what you had for lunch? But critics misunderstood it. What Twitter truly portended wasn’t small, it was huge. As I argued in my first-ever WIRED column more than a decade ago, Twitter represented a massive shift in the way we pay attention to one another. The status update took off and we entered the era we still inhabit: the age of awareness.
Before the age of awareness, people conversed via blog posts, threads in discussion forums, email chains. You read someone’s missive, pondered it, wrote back. It was newfangled and digital, sure, but it nonetheless echoed the tempo of industrial life—the postal service in the Victorian period, bickering with fellow citizens in letters to the editor. Utterances were infrequent and somewhat lengthy.