Ten billion, and counting…

Twitter has seen an upsurge in India in recent months

On Friday, a team huddled together to “watch the big board roll over to 10 billion tweets.” @ev let the world in on this public secret when he tweeted about this milestone on the micro-blogging site Twitter.com, one that he co-founded in 2006. @ev is the twitter handle (unique ID that micro-bloggers go by) for Twitter CEO Evan Williams.

Closer home, that day the Indian Parliament saw a new-age Web 2.0 phrase enter its vocabulary. Taking objection to Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor’s controversial twitter updates, a senior politician warned: “All this tweeting can lead to quitting.” With the mainstream media often using twitter to garner opinion, and Bollywood biggies such as Shah Rukh Khan using this medium to air their views, micro-blogging appears to have arrived in India.

So how has Twitter been able to go where social networks and blogs haven’t? The beauty of twitter lies in its simplicity. It revolves round a plain premise: ‘What’s happening?’ In 140 characters, no more, users can punctuate their replies with wit, intellect, news or information (increasingly so) and, of course, brevity. Being text-based, your information stream is uncluttered, selective (depending on whom you choose to follow) and satisfies that inherent desire to talk to the world.

Indian trending topics

Seconds after cricketer Sachin Tendulkar scored his double century or controversial Swami Nityanand made headlines, twitterspace was abuzz. So #Nityanand was seen ‘trending’ worldwide for at least four hours, as have #Budget, #Mumbai4all (in response to the Shiv Sena caveat) or #FunnyIndianAds. Twitter user Tinu Cherian says Indian tweeple — twitter parlance for microbloggers — are excited. “Some of these topics had 600 people tweeting at the same time. We hope Twitter will take note,” he says. Indian twitter users lament the fact that Local Trends — a feature that makes Trending Topics location-based — has not been rolled out in India.

What makes it click?

Kiran Jonalagadda, who became a twitter celebrity of sorts when he tweeted live updates from the site of a fire accident in Bangalore, discovered himself “swimming in retweets” — with 400 messages in an evening. He believes that being primitive and crude is Twitter’s USP. “Twitter does what it does and nothing else, unlike facebook which tries to be all. So when something is going on, on Twitter it is very easy to jump into the action.” That the @name (syntax) is universal is significant too, he adds. Further, Twitter’s simple API has allowed for multiple clients, so it is easy to use across platforms, be it on the desktop or mobile phone.


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