Twitter and Its Spatial Bias

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A medium is a means of mass communication, such as television, radio, or newspapers. Harold Innis, a leading scholar of communication and media theories, separated media into two categories, time-biased and space-biased. Time-biased media last longer but reach few, while space-biased mediums reach many but are short lived. Twitter is a social form of media, which sends short messages that have the potential of a massive audience on a global scale, putting in Harold Innis’ category of a space-biased form of media.
As mentioned, Twitter is a social medium that allows its two hundred million users (twitter.com) to send out one hundred and forty character long messages, or tweets, to the world. Members “follow” other users whose tweets they want to see on their home feed. By default, tweets are visible to the public, including non-twitter members, but users have the option to make their tweets private. Users can “retweet” another someone else’s tweet, which will prompt that tweet to be shown to all of the retweeter’s followers. Twitter also utilizes hashtags, which are words or phrases typed following a “#” sign which lead users to other tweets with the same hashtag.
The site launched in 2006 but gained the bulk of its popularity in 2012 when the site surpassed five hundred million registered users. (techcrunch.com) As of September 2013 data from the company showed that their millions of users send out four hundred million tweets per day. (theguardian.com) Due to it’s extreme success Twitter announced it would file for an IPO. Seventy million Twitter shared were priced at $26 and on it’s first day of trading on the New York Stock exchange they closed at $44.90. This valued the company at thirty-one billion dollars. (BBC)
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...that as a culture moves towards spatial-biased media it deviates from temporal-biased media, or vice verse. However, Twitters short exposure time does not limit its potential of influence and power. A phenomena known as “Twitter Revolutions” have emerged, which Twitter is used to organize protest, most notably the Egyptian revolution in 2011. This potential for influence has led to government blocks in some countries.
Twitter is a social form of media falling into Harold Innis’ category of a space-biased type of media, because even with its short messages it has the potential of reaching a massive audience on a theoretically global scale, but having a minimal exposure period. Twitter provides an example of America and cultures like it wanting to make information available quicker to more people, but doing so while sacrificing information sustainability over time.
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