When I wrote the first edition of this book, Twitter was just starting to hit the big time: bemused front
page articles in just about every magazine and newspaper in the land wondered just what this
Twitter thing was all about; the actor Ashton Kutcher (@aplusk) had just cracked the one million
follower mark; and Oprah herself had joined the fray with her own Twitter account (@oprah).
A year later, has anything changed? Oh, just a few things: Now every magazine and newspaper in
the land not only has its own Twitter feed, but most of their reporters and writers have Twitter
accounts, too; more than two hundred Twitter users have at least one million followers; and, of
course, anybody who is anyone now tweets.
In fact, as I was writing this edition Twitter crossed the 100 million user threshold, a jaw-dropping
number that, more than anything else, signals Twitter’s newfound (and apparently permanent)
place in the mainstream. That’s a pretty heady climb for a service that began with the question
“What are you doing?,” a query so humble and mundane that Twitter was either ridiculed or ignored
for most of its early life.
What turned the tide? The overall rise of social networking sure helped, of course, but I think the real
secret of Twitter’s success is that the Twitter users took the original What are you doing? question
and morphed it into something more along the lines of What’s happening now? (In fact, as you see
in Chapter 3, Twitter recently changed the question from What are you doing? to What’s happening?)
That seemingly subtle change has made all the difference because it opens up a world of new
questions: What are you reading? What great idea did you just come up with? What are you
worried about? What interesting person did you just see or hear? What great information did you
stumble upon on the Web? What hilarious video would you like to share?