by Brian Solis

I recently spoke at Web 2.0 Expo about Microblogging and its future, along with Stowe Boyd, Jeremiah Owyang and Greg Narain. As you could imagine, the topic concentrated on almost wholly on Twitter, but we were also able to look at many other forms of micromedia including Jaiku, Pownce, Seesmic, Utterz, Tumblr, and even Facebook’s Mini-Feed.

There’s a fair amount of discussion about whether or not we drink our own bath water here in Silicon Valley, since many of the tools, networks and services we rave about, carry little recognition outside of the San Francisco Bay Area.

I guess that’s why Silicon Valley is Silicon Valley. It’s an incredible hub and ecosystem for fostering innovation. For years, many great products started out appealing only to the lunatic fringe or the edglings. Naturally, the products with momentum and purpose, even if they weren’t the best technological solution available, would successfully carry across the consumer adoption bellcurve.

That’s where our session at Web 2.0 comes into play…

First, Greg Narain led the development of a new alpha product based on the Twitter API, tentatively called “Front Channel,” which we debuted at the Expo. The app’s sole purpose was to show the back channel on screen, bringing people’s commentary into the conversation.

The panel was able to not only present ideas and vision for microblogging, but also respond to individual tweets in real time, taking the discussion outside of the room in San Francisco and carrying dialog around the world. It was simply unbelievable and truly engaging.

Now, Twitter is one of many tools, but it is where the people are. And, in Social Media, that counts for everything.

I believe that Twitter has a legitimate shot at crossing the chasm to find mass users in the early market and late market majority – as long as it can scale. But here’s where my thoughts diversify from the rest of the Twitterati. I think that aggregation of various mediums and channels will be the next big app for Social Media, and as Chris Heuer calls it, “everywhere messaging.”

Twitter is gaining popularity among younger generations as well as corporate america and Hollywood. MTV, JetBlue, Zappos, Dell, H&R Block, these are just a few companies using Twitter to listen and engage conversations. In many cases, Twitter is also quickly becoming an excellent tool for outbound customer service.

It’s only going to continue to grow exponentially.

It’s about the flow and many streams aka social networks, can spill into one bigger, more fluent river, which can include Twitter and services built upon its open API but also services such as Flickr, YouTube, Facebook, etc. It’s one of the reasons that FriendFeed is gaining a tremendous amount of traction. But make no mistake, Twitter, and the people who power it, have created a unique, active, and thriving culture. It, along with aggregated services that combine text, video, audio, and pictures, will continue to change how we communicate. It will combine one-to-one, one-to-many, and many-to-many, for a variety of relevant discussions that matter to us as both individuals and also professionals.

Connect with me on Twitter, Jaiku, LinkedIn, Pownce, Plaxo, FriendFeed, or Facebook.

About the Author:

Brian Solis

Brian Solis is principal at Altimeter Group, a research-based advisory firm. Solis is globally recognized as one of the most prominent thought leaders and published authors in new media. A digital analyst, sociologist, and futurist, Solis has studied and influenced the effects of emerging media on business, marketing, publishing, and culture. His current book, Engage, is regarded as the industry reference guide for businesses to build and measure success in the social web.

Visit Brian's page at


    no imageEric Berlin (Who am I?)28 April 2008 6:15 pm

    Great piece, Brian, and much agreed!

    I especially agree on the “aggregation of various mediums and channels will be the next big app for Social Media.” Curious about your thoughts on why the Twitterati differs from this view? Is it your take that their thinking is Twitter is New Twitter, End of Story?

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    no imageDaryl Tay (Who am I?)28 April 2008 10:49 pm

    I’d love to see the day where Twitter becomes a solid reliable force in the online communications world, but I think it has yet to hit the critical mass to do so. Even after a year I think still the early adopters are on it, which makes it hard to really push that mainstream boundary.

    However, if companies are using to hit that small but very vocal slice of they pie, then it’s definitely where they should be going. It’s just a matter of where their time/effort/money is better spent.

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    no imagePaula Thornton (Who am I?)29 April 2008 11:14 am

    Twitter is the simulcast TechAid — it’s both the event and the broadcast medium — a worldwide view of key voices in real time. [The on-demand recall still leaves a bit to be desired, except through the search engines...but that's a bit protracted.]

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