It's hard to believe that Twitter has been around barely five years, so widespread has its acceptance become.
Current usage levels are hovering around 200 million tweets a day, and for many people it's an invaluable news source and a good way of getting in touch, or, for a few, just a way to fill everyone else's world with banality. Love it or loath, it Twitter is here to stay.
Twitter's fundamental technology is very basic, but the platform has been at the forefront of the social networking sector and continues to play a valuable role. Quite how valuable we may see later on this year, if the company's plans to go public come to fruition.
You're going to be hearing a lot about Twitter on V3 over the next few weeks, and when Shaun and I started talking it over as a topic for the Top 10 we liked the idea more and more. There's much to be said, good and bad, about the company, but let us know if you think we've missed anything.
Honourable Mention: Celebrity meltdowns
Shaun Nichols: Even though I'm not one to read the local gossip columns or browse the tabloids, I have to say that I do occasionally enjoy seeing celebrities make fools of themselves on Twitter.
Twitter is something of a perfect storm for celebrity slip-ups. The short and concise nature of the format makes posting them without much editing or forethought very easy, and the support for mobile applications makes it simple to mistakenly Tweet while out on the town and perhaps a bit under the influence.
As such, more than a few musicians, movie stars and athletes have managed to make themselves look very foolish by posting an ill-advised rant on Twitter.
These days, the fashionable way to play off these sorts of mistakes is to blame them on 'hackers'. Perhaps it's the work of that darned Louise Boat.
Iain Thomson: I think the gentleman doth protest too much. You might not be avidly following the latest manufactured band of Hollywood starlet, but you know more gossip about sports players than any man I know.
As we'll discuss later, Twitter is the perfect tool for the self-obsessed, which is why so many of the current mob of 'celebrities' love it so much. Simply adding an @ sends a message to the user and it's a very direct form of contact.
Take an average C list celebrity, add the immediacy of the medium and its ability to scale out, and then throw in a handful of prescription narcotics and watch it all unfold.
My favourite example of someone coming a cropper (although such medicine was not involved) on Twitter is the faeces-examining faux doctor Gillian McKeith, who got into a Twitter war of words with the science writer Dr Ben Goldacre. McKeith took umbrage at a tweet from a fan of Goldacre's and fired off a series of angry tweets of her own, repeatedly calling Goldacre a liar.
British libel laws are very strict, and Goldacre contacted McKeith and pointed out her very actionable position. This led to a flurry of activity, many deleted tweets and finally an attempt to claim that her Twitter account was run by a third party. This latter claim caused problems, since the account was embedded in her web page. It was a roadcrash of epic proportions.
5. Link sharing
Iain Thomson: At a rough guess, three quarters of all tweets I send are links, and I'm by no means the worst offender.
Twitter is perfect for links, thanks to URL-shortening services, and it's been fascinating watching how people filter and select tweets to respond to. One learns very quickly whose links are worth opening up, and who sends out dross. Twitter spam is sadly a growing problem and, while the company has made some attempts to address the issue, it hasn't been good enough.
It's easy to see why Twitter is a popular target for spammers. A mentally-infectious tweet can go viral faster than a rat up a drainpipe, and redirects from Twitter make up an important part of most web sites' traffic, as well as providing short traffic loads that make older servers snivel.
A snappy one liner can reap huge numbers of hits, and it's interesting to see who's better at grabbing your attention. I suspect Twitter writing is already being taught in marketing departments across the wired world.
Shaun Nichols: This one can be good and bad. On one hand, retweeting is a great way to spread a clever story or an interesting point. Unfortunately, it is also a great way for scammers to spread their operations among tens of thousands of potential targets.
We have already seen examples of online scammers trying to exploit loopholes in the system to spam people's news feeds and try to lure their friends into similar traps.
Twitter is hardly alone in this problem. Facebook's news feed feature has long been abused in this way, and there isn't much you can do to stop it short of banning third-party applications and sifting through each individual post.
I'd suggest taking a commonsense approach. If a friend posts a strange or uncharacteristic web link, don't follow it (tempting as it may be) until verifying with the original poster that the link is not spam.
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