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Twitter-week: shutdown, tragedies and humor

The Twitter-verse in this first week of October of the first week of the October 2013 government shutdown offers a few timely applications and insights on Twitter as a social-media sharing tool. We find news, alerts, tragedy and humor.

Twitter in the news

Twitter reveals, in its ramp-up to an IPO launch, that it only has 215 millions MAUs (or monthly active users), not the 500 million estimate I once read, via wiki. But these millions are growing — 35% growth in the US over last year’s numbers, and 47% international growth. There are some 50 million Twitter accounts based in the United States, with some 75% of these folks accessing Twitter via mobile devices at an average of 825 timeline checks over the past 3-month period (about nine times a day).

New in the Twitter-verse

If you were on a mobile device and a Twitter user in Washington DC on October 3, you might have received one of Twitter’s first live applications of its new alert system, warning of a Capitol shutdown due to a rogue driver being chased by federal law enforcement agents. The driver was eventually shot and killed by the officers. Reuters reported that …

“Just before the Capitol lockdown, Senator John McCain of Arizona was on the Senate floor urging that President Barack Obama and a bipartisan group of senators launch negotiations to break the deadlock over government funding and a debt limit increase.”

It was noted (via an NPR report or somewhere?) that those federal agents (two of whom were injured, expected to be okay) were working the Capitol lockdown without pay due to the government shutdown.

On day one of the shutdown, a Twitter Alert was sent by my summer employer, the National Park Service, informing us all that our parks were closed. (And visit the Huffington Post for their review of Hollywood stars’ Twitter reactions via hashtag #governmentshutdown.)

Twitter screenshot US government NPS shutdown

National Parks shutdown via new Twitter #alert hashtag

Earlier in the week, I’d shared the history of the #hashtag with students — observing that it first gained popular momentum during the 2007 wildfires in San Diego — and this article, The Short and Illustrious History of Twitter #Hashtags — Tech News and Analysis, offers the best version of this key Twitter transition. Liz Gannes observes that “On August 23, 2007, the Twitter hashtag was born. Invented by Chris Messina (now an open web advocate for Google), the first tweet with a hashtag read as follows: “how do you feel about using # (pound) for groups. As in #barcamp [msg]?” Today, this lowly # now helps guide 11% of each day’s tweets.

Humor in #hashtags

Of equal importance in this Twitter-week-in-review is the reminder that tools can shape the tool-user and that we’d be mere tools of the tool if we didn’t laugh at our tool-using selves.

“#Hashtag” with Jimmy Fallon & Justin Timberlake

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