Twitter is a preview of the third generation of the web, where we are communicating in real-time. The first generation of the Web was rather static. It was mostly about companies displaying their products and services on web pages. Individuals started creating personal websites, but they too were static. The Web was used for publishing and a lot of screen scraping was done to cut and paste from other websites so you could fill your own.
The second generation of the Web, the so-called ‘Web 2.0’ was already more interactive. With the advent of Web services, the web became a more connected place. Companies now had to show much more interaction with their customers and started using the social networking media like MySpace and Facebook, to set up a dialogue with their customers. Individuals were using these social networking media to connect with their friends and to keep them posted on what they were doing. Everywhere you could see ‘wikis’ being set up and individuals started blogging about a wide range of subjects. This created a web where you could follow what was going on in a certain niche and take part in the discussion.
The third generation of the Web is about to break loose. Here we take one step further than interactive, we go real-time. Here the Web is just there… connecting everything and every body. We will see real-time interactions between devices and people are juicing a gigantic stream of data that everybody can jump into. Surely people will still be concerned about what happened in the past, but this generation of the web is about what’s happening now.
Twitter gives us a glimpse of what this the third generation of the Web could be like. It lets us communicate in near real-time, but it resembles a stream of information we can dip into.
Many things that happen in the world are reported on Twitter first. When that plane landed in the Hudson River early 2009 a guy called Janis Krums was on the ferry picking up the first survivors. He took a picture of the plane and tweeted this to the world. When the elections in Iran in June 2009 were over, the world learned from the many tweets from Iran that there were violent protests against the election results. When the protests started, the regular news media like CNN did not pick this up for hours. This in itself caused a big discussion on Twitter (#cnnfail) about the role that the regular news media should be playing, where what is happening on Twitter is taken into account. The issue here is: can what is tweeted be trusted by the news media or is further investigation required. The answer is a difficult one, but one thing is clear “ the truth is more seen than read”, so anything that is documented on video or photos, can be trusted more than what is just written.