Saturday, December 16, 2017

It was my 11th Twitter birthday yesterday

I've been a member since 15th December 2006. Eleven years. I was one of the early adopters in the UK. This is how it happened.

Downstairs back wall
The calm before the storm
London Tech Christmas Party December 2006
I was part of the London Tech community's Christmas 'Mega Bash' of 2006 led by Ian Forrester of BBC Backstage. The idea was to get all the London tech community groups together and to have a big Christmas bash on Saturday 9 December 2006. Swedish Beers was one of the groups involved alongside London Girl Geekdinners, Geekdinners, London Perlmongers, London Webstandards Group, London Ruby user group, Open rights group, London 2.0, Mobile Monday, LondonSEO. Of those, Swedish Beers is definitely still going strong with no sign of letting up any time soon (I hope).

The sponsors on the night fared better. Trusted Places went to Yell. SkillsMatter, Chinwag, TechCrunch UK, and O'Reilly are all still around in one form or another. AdMob sold to Google for megabucks. And Connect Me Anywhere was the precursor to Iovox.

Twitter didn't quite make the grade as a full-on sponsor, but they were involved in some way. It's a long time ago. I can't remember the detail. There was some Twitter activity that night, but I hadn't been organised enough to sign up to the service. And in all honesty, I really couldn't see the point of micro-blogging. I'd been doing long-form blogging for 3 years at that point and I'd been an active member of Flickr since 2005 and even had a PRO account so I could store more photos. That was my social network of choice at the time. We used that and Moblog a bit like Instagram is used now except we took our photos on our mobile or cameras and uploaded via desktop or laptop computer.  My business networking was done on Soflow, Ecademy and LinkedIn. So I could see the point of social networking (although we didn't call it that then), but microblogging? Yeah, wasn't so sure on that one.


I took some nudging from Ian to get signed up to Twitter. I did it as a favour to him after the party to help him meet his obligations to Twitter. And in those early days, I really couldn't see the point so I wasn't particularly active. And my first tweets don't reveal very much of note either. Also at the time, Twitter wasn't market leader. We also had Jaiku and Pownce. Jaiku has more functionality. I seem to remember Pownce having some weird USP that I can't quite remember, but they were both also about micro-blogging.

Fast forward to February 2007, and it's 3GSM in Barcelona - what is now Mobile World Congress. Twitter is integrated with SMS and you could do things like create an interest group and everyone in the group would receive the messages via SMS. You could post and receive via SMS for free as well. In Barcelona, on roaming, and many of us on the same mission to find out where the action was at 3GSM, Twitter suddenly had a purpose. The most similar thing to that now would be a WhatsApp or WeChat Group. Now I got the point. We could share messages with each other easily and for free. We could find out about what was going on and get answers to questions. All useful stuff. And now, all superseded by other services.

It's fair to say that for a few years I was an enthusiastic Twitter user. I met many people via Twitter. Engaged in the offline Twitter meet-ups and I met new clients via Twitter as well. It was still small enough that you could keep track of the people you were following and in turn, you could be found and make an impression. Most people still couldn't see the point of it so it stayed in the category of quality not quantity in those days.

But as the masses joined in, the usefulness and relevance for me decreased. And for the last few years, I've hardly used it at all. Facebook and LinkedIn have taken over in usefulness and reach for me - particularly the former, even for business-related content.

But, I'm still there and I'm using it a bit more again since I picked up the blogging pace this November. It's harder work because of the volume of stuff to wade through. And I'm not sure how much reach I get from Twitter. My blog stats say Google and Facebook are my main drivers of traffic with Twitter barely showing a blip these days. But maybe that will change now that I'm a bit more engaged. These platforms have a way of ebbing and flowing over time. And maybe now that Twitter is not quite as micro-blogging as before, it will make a difference.

If you'd like to relive that London Tech Mega Christmas Bash 2006, you can do that here. And if you're feeling brave, you can check out the photos. We certainly look younger, but so many of the photos are deeply, deeply unflattering!

Day 16/25 Blogmas