Sunday, December 27, 2009

Twitter reveals 2009’s trends, #Gaza high on the list

As we wrap up 2009, and following our series of columns on the top trends, products and events of the past decade, it’s time to just look back at 12 months and seek indicators for what the first few years of the next decade could bring.

And what better tool is there than the ‘real-time trend barometer’ which is Twitter. Twitter is not just a social networking tool, it also played an important role in breaking, spreading and even forming big news stories this year. The micro-blogging service’s most-discussed topics of the year included the Iranian election and demonstrations, Obama’s inauguration, swine flu and even reality TV show stars!

A Twitter spokesperson, Abdur Chowdhury, writes in his blogpost launching the chart saying that “2009 Twitter’s Trending Topics helped us understand what was happening around the world showing us that people everywhere can be united in concern around important events. Among all the keywords, hashtags and phrases that proliferated throughout the year, one topic surfaced repeatedly. Twitter users found the Iranian elections the most engaging topic of the year. The terms #iranelection, Iran and Tehran were all in the top 21 of Trending Topics, and #iranelection finished in a close second behind the regular weekly favorite #musicmonday.”

Gaza was also high on the list. Even as we speak, the anniversary of the war in Gaza has prompted Arab Tweeters- also known as Tweeps- to remind the world about it by tweeting it, hash-tagging it, and changing their avatar photos too. This could, possibly, push #Gaza up on the Twitter trends list before the year is out. Twitter may have to change it's end-of-year chart!

Already, in the Arab World, Twitter has become a barometer of public issues, albeit among tech-savy and Internet enabled individuals. But, as Internet penetration increases, we’ll be seeing more Arabs on Twitter.

Last week, in an interview on Al Jazira news channel, I spoke about the power of the Internet to unite Arabs behind humanitarian causes, and to attract the attention of the world. There is strength in our numbers, and finally there are tools to help us shape global opinion.

As the decade draws to a close, social networking tools have become one of the best means to make a statement. We are entering a decade where the way we communicate will evolve in the direction set by the past few years, and who knows what other tools we’ll be using soon. Happy New Year 2010, and wishing you a good ‘Tens Decade’.


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