When a Little Blue Bird Flaps Its Wings: How Twitter is Changing the World – Bret Staudt Willet

Could the flap of a butterfly’s wings cause a tornado? In chaos theory, small changes in initial conditions are shown to have profound effects later on. Designed as a simple tool to share “short bursts of inconsequential information,” at first Twitter offered just a few initial actions. Many of the features that are most iconically Twitter started later as user conventions before the platform eventually adopted them—e.g. Hashtags, replies, and retweets. Despite the company struggling to turn a profit or curb abuse, it has become the can’t-live- without hub for online communities in a wide variety of fields. Twitter is emblematic of how we connect on the Internet more broadly: the temptation is to broadcast, to market, to sell, or to watch—but the real opportunity is to connect. What lessons are we to learn from this?

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