I came across an article by Steven Levy on Wired entitled ‘Mob Rule! How Users Took Over Twitter’ which talks about the evolution of Twitter. Levy talks about how the Retweet wasn’t introduced by Twitter but by its users — Biz Stone called it “a great example of Twitter teaching us what it wants to be.”
A second example he went on to discuss was the introduction of the hashtag, born out of a user, Dan Zarrella, who wished to save the retweet (Twitter had announced plans for a relatively minor change to how the site fucntions). And this was the birth of the hashtag as we know it.
This model is different from anything previous. Very quickly Twitter has gone from a simple web service to a constantly growing, increasingly complex ‘ecosystem’ that is evolving as its users discovers new ways to harness potential that couldn’t have been conceived by Twitter’s creators. Twitter has “established itself as a staple of social networking, commerce, electioneering, celebrity culture, public relations, media, and political protest.” (Levy, 2009)
It will be interesting to see how Twitter plans to monetise itself and what business model it will adopt. If its users are shaping its service, who inevitably owns Twitter?