Saturday, October 18, 2008


Twitter is becoming an increasingly relevant, real-time barometer of what people are thinking anywhere, any time. For a fascinating example of this, check out Twitter's Election 2008 page, where tweets (single posts) pop up and start sliding down the page at the rate of nearly one per second—or faster some days, depending on the news of the hour or the day or the minute.

It's like walking into a crowded room of people who are having a hyper-lively conversation about one topic, and then being able to overhear all the bits of it, clearly. In this case, the chatter, after a short while, suggests how Obama and McCain are "playing in Peoria" (or anywhere else, for that matter). Consider it a kind of crowdsourced, informal focus group —a good example of how Twitter can convey a kind of "first-read" of public opinion. Mesmerizing.

(Illustration: Communicating by Miroslaw Pieprzyk for

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