A lot happened in 2011. At least for me, this year was defined by 140-character thoughts, weaving together to create a real-time account of the world’s most important (or at least, most tweeted about) events. If I didn’t learn about a world event from Twitter itself, I turned to it as my first source of information. In my world, news doesn’t break from Brian Williams or CNN or the Washington Post online. In my world, news tweets, and then I tweet about it. What did you learn in the Twitterverse this year?
1. Egyptian Revolution: Whether digital platforms mattered a lot or a little in the Egyptian revolution, I watched the revolution through a flurry of #egypt (the top hashtag of the year) and #jan25 (the eighth most popular hashtag of the year). I watched how online connectivity can inspire offline action that really matters.
2. Gabby Giffords: In my living room one January afternoon, I began to see “my heart is in Tucson” all over Twitter, only to learn that Rep. Giffords had been shot in the head. Months later, she’s on her way to recovery & using her experience to host #TBItownhall, a forum to answer questions about traumatic brain injuries.
3. Capture of Osama bin Laden: I’ll be honest — I didn’t actually find out about bin Laden via Twitter. In fact, my roommate’s friend texted her to ask if I was watching CNN (shockingly, I wasn’t). I turned the channel right away, but ended up turning to Twitter right away to see what everyone was saying about the topic. I followed the story that night and that week via Twitter, finding the information up-to-date, accurate, and, at times, a way to form a patriotic bond with other Americans.
4. Government shutdown: While many Americans were breaking out their back-to-school lists, legislators were gathered to fight a government shutdown as they debated raising the debt ceiling. I watched the battle unfold via @debt_ceiling to watch the budget debate in real-time.
5. Kim Kardashian’s divorce: I am not proud of this, nor do I consider this “top” news for 2011. However, I found out about her divorce a few weeks ago while scanning Twitter during a somewhat-slow afternoon lecture. I like to dub this just one of the many useless things I learn from the Twitterverse…
6. Kim Jong Il: Last night, in preparation for this very post, I asked my fellow tweeters what they learned via Twitter in 2011, only to have someone tweet about Kim Jong Il’s death!
In 2012, I have no doubt Twitter will continue to be a top source of news. How will it be used in the 2012 Olympic Games? GOP nomination? Presidential campaign? For celebrity breakdowns? (#biwinning, anyone?) We will see!