Just in case you think that Twitter is cutting edge, the good people at the Wall Street Journal are here to set you straight... On their blog they interviewed Cornell professor Lee Humphreys, who did an analysis of the striking similarities between Twitter and 18th century diaries.
Personal journals were not always about writing long prose about everything you did that day... most of them contained very short one-sentence updates:
"Before the end of the 19th century, diaries weren’t considered private or introspective. Instead, people wrote semi-public diaries that were often shared among faraway family members and others. And space was at a premium; by the mid-1800s, popular “pocket diaries” were only about 2 inches by 4 inches and were intended to be more mobile than earlier books."
Take for example somebody I just started following recently: John Quincy Adams. Yep... son of John Adams and the sixth president of the USA, John Quincy is up on Twitter. The Massachusetts Historical Society is taking his personal diary verbatim and placing it up on Twitter... 200 years to the day AFTER he originally wrote them, and most of them fit into the 140-character limit just fine! Call me nerdy, but that's pretty cool.
One of my favorite lines from the article is this:
Dr. Humphreys said the research serves as a good reminder that not everything in new media is entirely new. "It’s helpful to put things into historical context," Dr. Humphreys said. "It’s amazing how much human nature hasn’t really changed all that much."
Too true... when Twitter first came out I thought it was a silly concept... why would I Tweet when I could Blog? The point it, despite the number of blogs out there, not many people enjoy writing... but everybody like keeping up-to-date with friends.
But of course, that's what Facebook is for ;-)