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It took me years to finally venture over to Twitter to see what all the fuss was about. I was one of those who thought everything about it was silly, including and especially the name. And what was with that 140 character limit? Anything I wrote would be called a "Tweet". Uugh. No!
I don't remember what finally changed my mind, but now I follow over 1,000 people who, by retweeting what they've found, make up a humungous network passing along information I'm interested in. Whenever something big is about to happen I rush to Twitter to see what's going on.
Last night I was watching TV and skimming Twitter at the same time, when around 10:15 someone tweeted that Obama would be making a "major security" announcement at 10:30 PM. Long before any TV source was saying it, the buzz began on Twitter, thanks to Keith Urbahn, Rumsfeld's former chief-of-staff, who tweeted at 10:25 PM, "So I'm told by a reputable person that they've killed Osama Bin Laden. Hot damn." People who followed his tweets re-tweeted it to other people and they re-tweeted it to others and within seconds it came to me via a dozen re-tweets from people I follow. We all knew it long before the networks and cable news channels were allowed to announce it. They were scooped by Twitter, plain and simple.
Sohaib Athar, an IT consultant right in Abbotabad, near the compound where Bin Laden was finally taken down, was live-tweeting earlier in the afternoon about helicopters hovering overhead, worrying that something big was about to happen. (I didn't see it but read about it this morning. )
This isn't the first time we've been witness to events unfolding live as they happened, getting more info within minutes than we could get through conventional sources. A woman in the middle east was live-tweeting as soldiers broke into their house and dragged her father out. We learned later, sadly, that they had killed her father and her husband.
We heard about the shooting in Tucson on Twitter first. People on the scene were tweeting through their I-Phones.
Such is the power of Twitter. It still carries that unfortunate name but it's all grown up now. Leave it to the standard sources for the in-depth reporting, but for instant news followed by source after source for more information, I'll head to Twitter first. (This is, unless it's overloaded, which it is right now!)