TIME: ‘The 140 Moments That Made Twitter Matter’


TIME must have had a lot of fun putting this together.

Maybe you don’t think Twitter matters at all. Maybe you think I’ve been wasting my time posting those 10,000 Tweets. Well, you’re wrong.

But don’t listen to me. Just peruse this collection of moments — with separate lists of #Fails, #Feuds, #Scoops, #Stunts, #Backtracks, #Rants, #Raves, #LOLz, #Debuts and #GameChangers — when Twitter really did matter.

Yeah, a lot of those are just fun, but many are serious. No one can doubt any more the power of Twitter as a medium that means business.

You can’t deny the power when…

Yeah, it’s a little less earth-shaking when a Hollywood star finds a fresh way to make a public fool of himself. Yeah, Alec Baldwin, I’m talking about you.

But there’s no question that Twitter matters now. And you don’t even need 140 characters to say that, to mean it — or too prove it.

Yes, that's Patrick Stewart posing in front of a sign that says "Picard." You sort of have to know about "Star Trek" to get this...
Yes, that’s Patrick Stewart posing in front of a sign that says “Picard.” You sort of have to know about “Star Trek” to get this. This is from the #LOLz category…

8 thoughts on “TIME: ‘The 140 Moments That Made Twitter Matter’

  1. Karen McLeod

    I have to go with Jimmy Buffet, “All that useless and important information.” How much of the stuff that they are hyping about being twittered was so important that you needed to halt what you were doing to find out about it? How much might you have gotten more completely and accurately by checking a competent news story or 2 about it that evening or the next morning? How much misinformation, not to mention downright lies are tweeted and then taken as complete and gospel truth by the gullible, who then pass that “news” on to the next person?

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Twitter is where I get all those “competent news stories.” It’s the best headline service ever invented. I find all kinds of deep, important insightful stuff that I would never run across through other channels.

      Yeah, I read The State and the WSJ each morning (on the iPad). But what Twitter can give me, very quickly, is the rest of the world of news and commentary. If it’s worth reading, Twitter will give you a link to it, the very moment it is available.

      I scoffed at Twitter before I gave it a chance. Then I found out it was like having all those news services flowing through my computer at the newspaper, only exponentially broader and more comprehensive and faster.

  2. Silence

    I think Twitter has been heavily promoted by the media because it gives “big media” with their built in name recognition, staffing and reach a new outlet to disseminate news. Ditto for Hollywood and celebrity culture – it gives celebs another outlet to reach fans, and lets fans have the opportunity to interact with celebs. That said, I don’t think that Twitter is important. It’s just a medium, just like dead trees, clay tablets, radio waves, or other bits and bytes.

    If you think it’s important, put your money where your mouth is and get in on tomorrow’s overhyped IPO…

    1. Brad Warthen

      If I had money, I would — if only to express my appreciation.

      I wouldn’t expect to MAKE money from doing so, though. To me, the ideas “so important” and “profitable” aren’t related. They may both apply to the same thing, but only incidentally, not as a result of any direct relationship between the concepts. Twitter is an extraordinarily useful tool. It’s revolutionary. But I’m not sure how you make it a money-maker without messing with it. If I start seeing a lot of obviously promoted Tweets, that will dilute Twitter’s attraction somewhat.

      Now, when I see Tweets like that, I’ll think “Why am I seeing this? This isn’t anyone I’m following; it isn’t anything I asked for.” Then I see the line telling me it’s an ad. But even without that line, they stick out. They’re likely strangers walking up to you on the street and presuming familiarity. Now, one of those in every 100 or so Tweets isn’t too bad. But give me more and you water down the utility of the experience, the goal of which is to get as much input from the sources I have chosen as possible, very quickly and without interruption.

      Of course, I’m engaging in old think here — assuming that advertising is the only way for a news medium to make money. And the OTHER, lesser, traditional model — subscription — would ruin the attraction of Twitter. Maybe there’s a way for it to make money that I’m not thinking of, one that wouldn’t interfere with this wonderful free gush of information and ideas.

      The rewards of Twitter are only indirectly profitable for users — it’s a good way to build support for a lot of businesses. It’s a nice cross between traditional PR and traditional word of mouth, only greatly amplified. The reward for those who engage in it is simply to get themselves and their information and their ideas out there.

      For me, it stimulates some pleasure center in the brain that keeps me going. Now that I’m not doing daily journalism, if I didn’t have that I’d be in a bad way, jonesing something awful.

  3. Brad Warthen Post author

    Far as I’m concerned, the two most amazing, impressive, revolutionary things that have happened on the Web in the last 10 years have been a) Google Maps, which I can just sit and groove over for hours, looking up places where I lived when I was a kid, etc., and b) Twitter.

    Twitter completely changed the way I relate to what’s happening in the world. I’m better informed than I was, and it’s more fun to get that way.

    I passed 10,000 what — two days ago? And I see I’m already at 10,071, without breaking a sweat, or indeed, making any noticeable effort at all. Of course, that includes reTweets. In fact, it’s mostly reTweets.

    Here’s a good way for you to give Twitter a chance. Just follow me. Not because I’m so clever with my original Tweets, but because of the cool, informative, interesting and sometimes even important stuff I will send your way through the reTweets. Yeah, some of it will just be fun, and my fun may not be your fun. But some of it will be stuff you should read, and might miss otherwise.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        See, that’s another great thing about Twitter — it’s a whole new universe where you can offend your friends and have awkward social moments!

        Sorry, Silence. Give me another chance.

        How often were you Tweeting? That’s one of the criteria I go by in deciding whether to follow…


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *