Back in the early days of blogging, which was not so long ago when you think about it, when people were pronouncing "blogging" verrrry slooooowly while making double quotes in the air with their fingers, there became something known as the "cheese sandwich blog."
As the story goes, one early blogger felt so compelled to blog something every few hours that he is reported to have written: "I ate a cheese sandwich."
Precisely true or not, the concept stuck, and it has evolved through a successive set of definitions over recent years which invariably range from simply the pedestrian to excruciatingly boring. My point, however, has nothing to do with this definition, but rather with the early experience of blogging as an example of what happens with any emergent Internet phenomenon. It's happening with Twitter today - cheese sandwiches, et al.
The first characteristic of a new technology is "over-enthusiasm." For me, it usually arrives with the pitching of a guest on Tech Nation who has built or led the first creative push of the phenom in question. The pitching party is in hyper-drive, trying to convince me that life will never be the same. I hesitate to tell him or her that life is never going to be the same in any event, with or without the tech in question, and that I'm hard pressed to name any technology which changed everything overnight in any context.
Over-enthusiasm is followed closely by the emergence of a small community of "early pioneers" - the folks who write or download an early version of some strange software and are trying to figure out what it's good for. How to use it, and how not to use it. What's hot, and what's not. These are the people who make the cheese sandwich blog mistakes while bringing into focus how the technology may fit into the big picture. If the technology is going to catch on, it starts getting broad adoption, it moves into the general population, and then we begin to see if the technology is here to stay. Frankly, this is often different from the vision of the original creators.
So here we are with Twitter and its 140-character Tweets, those tiny messages coming fast and furious from cell phones and the like everywhere and at any time. Twitter has been through the introduction phase, and it's now all about gaining followers, with celebrities elaborately creating competitions to see who can gain the most followers.
Of course, these technologies are never lone wolves. Sure, they are new unto themselves, but just like television affected radio, twittering has redefined the blogosphere. Unbelievably, blogs have matured, and it's as if they have found themselves. In addition to being lengthier, they are slower in creation and more deliberate. If you want rapid fire delivery, Twitter is the app of choice, although once it was advocated that blogging would fill those shoes. Besides, tweets and blogs can relate. You write a blog; you promote it with a tweet, a kind of May-December techno-relationship.
To be sure, how Twitter, blogs, and all the rest will be used in the end is yet to be seen. It's not hard to guess that all that twitters is not gold. But here's to the "Cheese Sandwich Tweet" - all those messages people are pumping out right now and nobody is reading. As misguided as it may seem (and some think it's a big waste of time), all this effort is giving Twittering life.
In doing so, we'll get it all worked out eventually, no doubt just in time for the next new technology to leap onto scene and greet us with promises of life-changing proportions ... than Twittering will look just a little dull, a bit like last year's model.