We who read (and write) blogs and play with the latest Internet Trinkets (and build them) have been called an echo chamber, a hall of mirrors, a teeny geeky minority whose audience is itself. Let me explore this notion a bit using Twitter.
In March, I gave a keynote at Web Design World in San Francisco. Frankly, it did not go that well; in particular, the crowd didn’t laugh at my jokes. Here’s one of them, more or less: “Being a Web Guy at Sun is a little intimidating. At high level strategy meetings the Chip Guys talk about what they’ll be shipping in 2009, and both the OS Guys and Java Guys talk about things a year or two out. As for us Web Guys, well... three weeks ago, I didn’t know that Twitter would become the Hot New Thing.”
It became apparent that most of them hadn’t heard of Twitter. The same joke (I’m a slow learner) fell flat at a meeting of University IT and Computer Science people a week later in Calgary. So let’s take this as evidence of the insularity and smallness—and, perhaps, unimportance—of the Internet In-crowd.
At the same time, we hear stories about the load on the Twitter servers spiking to tens of thousands of requests per second. The back of my envelope seems to be telling me that the number of people who not only know about but use Twitter is, um, enormous.
What do you make of it?