30 Sep 2015
Brevity is a lovely thing. Short sentences are sweet. A few words often trump many. This is why Twitter is a beloved social platform. Users are limited to a mere 140 characters per post, so their public ravings can be kept concise and clear.
Vitriol-spewing racists and misanthropes are kept relatively in check, while the annoyingly positive and smug show-offs are limited in their scope to ram words down your newsfeed.
This includes a new product that does away with the 140-character limit, and could enable people to post long-form content on Twitter.
People can already post images of long blocks of writing to bypass the limit, but such a workaround is not commonly used by the average Twitterer posting updates on their meals or raging against the UK's rail and transport services.
Twitter has already made moves to support longer comments when retweeting links, so the move to allow lengthier self-expression in general is not entirely unsurprising.
It would also appear that Dorsey is keen on exploring other changes to Twitter, even if his tenure in the hot seat is temporary.
"People have been very precious at Twitter about what Twitter can be and how much it can be evolved," a current senior employee told Re/code. "Having Jack come in and say it's OK makes all the difference in the world."
Dorsey may have his eye on expanding Twitter's reach beyond that of celebrities, brands, online extroverts and cynical media types, but many may oppose the idea of expanded tweets. Such a change could prompt a deluge of manifesto-length musings, rants, views and pontification, eroding the rapidly digestible nature of short tweets.
One could argue that these rumoured plans might turn Twitter into more of a Facebook-like platform. Mark Zuckerberg's social network sports a user base of around 1.5 billion people, so perhaps aping it a little is not such a bad thing for Twitter.
Diversity, or the lack of it, is a hot topic in the technology industry today. It's a talking point at conferences and roundtables, and often features in V3 articles.
But stereotypes of what an IT worker is and should look like remain hard to shake off, despite the best efforts of technology firms like Intel with its $300m diversity fund.
To break down the cliché that IT workers are male and unwashed nerds, women at technology companies have taken to Twitter to share images of themselves under the hashtag #iLookLikeAnEngineer.
The tweeting trend was sparked off when female platform engineer Isis Wenger was featured in an advert for a job at San Francisco-based security company OneLogin.
Wenger explained in a statement on LinkedIn that the advert, which was featured alongside another with male OneLogin workers, received a torrent of negative comments on social media, ranging from people thinking she was not the "right face" for the advert, to sheer disbelief that an IT worker could look like her.
"The reality is that most people are well intentioned but genuinely blind to a lot of the crap that those who do not identify as male have to deal with," she wrote.
"This industry's culture fosters an unconscious lack of sensitivity towards those who do not fit a certain mould. I'm sure that every other women and non-male identifying person in this field has a long list of mild to extreme personal offences that they've just had to tolerate."
Wegner noted how she had been the subject of misogynistic comments and behaviour in various IT positions.
This prompted her to post a picture of herself on Twitter holding a card saying: "I help build enterprise software" with the #iLookLikeAnEngineer hashtag.
The tweet generated strong support from other women in technology, who also started uploading pictures of themselves under the hashtag, although Wegner said that she has also received negative attention among the comments, which she will continue to bring to light.
The opportunity for women to address the male-heavy gender balance of the IT industry is thought to be better than it ever has been, but the need to post under such a hashtag and weather misogynistic abuse indicates that the technology world still has some way to go.
Social networks are a hubbub of digital noise and chatter, with people posting everything from casual opinions and updates on their breakfast, to breaking news and heated arguments.
Many companies and brands sweep these social platforms, such as Twitter and Facebook, to glean information about potential customers in a bid to better target services and products.
But few would ever think of using that social data as a means of suicide prevention. However, the Samaritans charity has revealed a new website dubbed Samaritans Radar which scans and flags "potentially worrying tweets" to a Twitter user once they register their account.
Developed in partnership with digital agency Jam, the service will email registered users with details of tweets from people they follow that contain phrases such as 'tired of being alone', 'hate myself', and 'depressed', which potentially indicate a risk of suicide.
The email will also contain advice from Samaritans on how Twitter users can support their friends and the people they follow, who may be harbouring suicidal thoughts.
The charity acknowledges that the algorithm will take some tuning to filter out sarcasm and dark jokes: "Samaritans Radar is in its infancy and won't get it right every time. But there's a way for you to give feedback on whether a Samaritans Radar alert was correct, so the service improves for everyone as it learns more."
Samaritans stressed that the Radar will send alerts to Twitter users only by email and will not encroach on their or other users' experiences, nor will it ever post from a registered user account.
While it is not unusual for people to go online for support, the process of applying algorithms to a situation that is open to interpretation and context may seem like a way of dehumanising the provision of personal support - in part digitising empathy.
But with 15 million Twitter users in the UK, Radar could provide an online safety net that has until now been notable by its absence. In turn, Radar could help people take a more active role in giving support to others in a way that has traditionally been the domain of specialist charities.
While Samaritans Radar could be seen as a pseudo nanny state service, it is another example of digital technology that could yield life-saving results.
The Queen has posted her first message on Twitter, in honour of the opening of the new Information Age gallery at the Science Museum that celebrates the role of network technology in changing the world forever.
The £15.6m gallery was opened by Her Majesty on Friday 25 October, and the historic occasion was marked by a 140-character missive on the site.
It is a pleasure to open the Information Age exhibition today at the @ScienceMuseum and I hope people will enjoy visiting. Elizabeth R.— BritishMonarchy (@BritishMonarchy) October 24, 2014
No doubt Liz was impressed by the wonderful array of objects on display at the new gallery, as the curators at the museum have excelled themselves in tracking down and securing some notable items from tech history.
This includes the magnificent Rugby Turning Coil that takes pride of place in the centre of the new gallery (pictured above), as well as the computer used by Sir Tim Berners-Lee at Cern where he invented the concept for the web (shown below).
Another impressive object on display is a Russian BESM-6 supercomputer that was used during the Cold War, the only such machine on display in a museum in the West (below).
The gallery isn't just dominated by large, history-making objects, however, and includes smaller items that show just how fast technology has evolved. Even landline telephones, still in use in many households, have now taken on the air of relics, as the below exhibits demonstrate.
The Snoopy Phone, in particular, is a reminder that people have always enjoyed trying to demonstrate their personalities through their phones, not just smartphones.
Other objects on display include the original galvanometer used to receive the first telegraph messages sent across the Atlantic between President James Buchanan and Queen Victoria in 1858, and the original Marconi radio transmitter that made the first public broadcast in 1922.
V3 was lucky enough to have a preview of the exhibition, and the pictures we snapped represent just a fraction of the 800 or so items on display in the new space. Anyone with even a cursory interest in technology history, or looking to inspire young enquiring minds, should find plenty to enjoy.
The new gallery is open from Saturday 25 October and is free of charge.
While Germany’s stupefying 7-1 destruction of Brazil in the World Cup semi-final in their own back yard sent footballing records tumbling, it also helped break two fairly notable Twitter records, which show how big the social network has now become.
As users around the world watched agog as the goals flew in, Twitter exploded. A truly staggering 35.6 million tweets about the company were posted, making it the single most discussed sporting event of all time on the platform.
This easily beat the 24.9m tweets sent about the Super Bowl earlier in 2014. Not only that, but the moment the fifth goal nestled in the back of the net Twitter exploded once again, helping smash the tweet per minute (TPM) record with more than half a million posts.
As the Guardian notes this is by far and away the largest ever number of tweets about one event to be sent in a minute, surpassing numerous events such as Usain Bolt's gold-medal 200m sprint peaked at 80,000 tweets per minute, and Beyoncé's Super Bowl half-time show in 2013 at 268,000 tweets per minute.
A real-time map of messages on Twitter as they were posted also gives some indication of where in the world the result left the biggest impact: unsurprisingly Brazilians were rather vocal about the result.
13 May 2014
Social network Twitter is offering its users a mute button that they can employ to filter out annoying people for a limited time, without having to unfollow them.
First to get the feature will be iPhone, Android and Twitter for Web users, who will now be able to silence tiresome users who perhaps post updates just a little too often.
"Today we're beginning to introduce a new account feature called mute to people who use our iPhone and Android apps and twitter.com. Mute gives you even more control over the content you see on Twitter by letting you remove a user's content from key parts of your Twitter experience," it said in a blogpost.
"In the same way you can turn on device notifications so you never miss a Tweet from your favorite users, you can now mute users you'd like to hear from less. Muting a user on Twitter means their Tweets and Retweets will no longer be visible in your home timeline, and you will no longer receive push or SMS notifications from that user."
The system sounds a lot like a block on another user, but one that will not apparently insult or offend the blocked person.
"The muted user will still be able to fave, reply to, and retweet your Tweets; you just won't see any of that activity in your timeline," added the firm. "The muted user will not know that you've muted them, and of course you can unmute at any time."
The feature will be rolled out to all users in the coming weeks, according to Twitter.
With the World Cup just around the corner those who follows avid football fans could find it a major blessing to help avoid endless tweets about how games are unfolding, or those tweeting manically about the final of Britain's Got Talent, without offending friends or colleagues.
The US National Security Agency (NSA) posted an intriguing message on its Twitter account over the weekend, in a novel way to appeal to those who have an aptitude for cracking codes and ciphers.
Usually the NSA's careers Twitter account posts up short, bland opportunities for applications, but this one is very different.
It is very obviously a cipher, and looks a lot like one that uses substituted letters. The question mark is something of a clue and suggests that the NSA is happy to leave such hints.
There are various ways and means of cracking substitution ciphers and one of them is to start with the letter E - the most commonly used of English letter characters, and work back from that.
We can confirm that the advert is not actually a job ad, but is more of a knowing wink in the direction of people that like codes and ciphers, want a job with the NSA, and are not Edward Snowden. You can see the solution to the NSA code puzzle in this YouTube video.
Last year the UK agency GCHQ carried out a similar experiment to help it in its search for the next Alan Turing. At the time GCHQ's head of resourcing, Jane Jones, said that modern threats require new ways of finding talented people to help crack complex codes.
"We want employees who have evolved with the ever-changing digital world and therefore have the right skills to combat these challenges," she said at the time. "It's a puzzle but it's also a serious test - the jobs on offer here are vital to protecting national security."
It is now eight years since the world was given the ability to share what was on its mind in 140-character snippets. Since then world leaders, pop stars, sporting heroes and top tech talents have all joined the bandwagon.
To celebrate eight years of success Twitter has created a nifty tool to help you easily find your first ever post on the site. V3 thought it would be fun to use the site to find out what some of the tech luminaries had to say for themselves. Some are more inspiring than others.
Bill Gates was snappy and to the point.
"Hello World." Hard at work on my foundation letter - publishing on 1/25.— Bill Gates (@BillGates) January 19, 2010
Oracle's Larry Ellison was his usual bullish self.
Oracle's got 100+ enterprise applications live in the #cloud today, SAP's got nothin' but SuccessFactors until 2020— Larry Ellison (@larryellison) June 6, 2012
Apple CEO Tim Cook was late to the party and in typical business mode.
Visited Retail Stores in Palo Alto today. Seeing so many happy customers reminds us of why we do what we do.— Tim Cook (@tim_cook) September 20, 2013
Security hero Eugene Kaspersky set about offering pearls of wisdom on staying safe online.
Talk to your kids about privacy in social networks http://on.fb.me/lNFpvq Better late than never— Eugene Kaspersky (@e_kaspersky) May 13, 2011
We're not sure what was going on when Sir Tim Berners-Lee first posted, but as he invented the web, we'll forgive him.
Ooops confusing user interfxce. And no phones on on stage with radiomikes.— Tim Berners-Lee (@timberners_lee) October 22, 2009
We here at V3 can't criticise too much, though, as our first effort was hardly the stuff of legend. Still, we like to think we've got a little better since then.
Researcher slaps Apple with 'toxic computer' claim: Shaun Nichols in San Francisco, A French researcher cl.. http://tinyurl.com/4t7cjz— V3 (@V3_co_uk) October 2, 2008
Our favourite, though, is Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, who kicked-off with a message about dancing and has never looked back.
Rare massage (for me), then dance practice. No pain, no gain. Awkward but fun, this dancing. I still can't do Macarena.— Steve Wozniak (@stevewoz) March 7, 2009
Happy birthday Twitter. Here's to the next eight years.