What’s Happening, Twitter?

November 20, 2009

Twitter’s been making a lot of changes lately. They’ve introduced new technologies like lists — which is kind of like a friend filter on Facebook — and a new way to share one another’s Tweets.

Usage on the company’s website has taken off like a rocket, up 1,703 percent year-over-year in September, and that doesn’t even count people who access the service through text messaging or specialized applications on their smartphones or computers.

But today was perhaps the most radical change of all. Twitter changed its cosmically deep and evocative signature query, “What are you doing?”

Now, Twitter wants to know, “What’s happening?”

No, it’s not an homage to the ’70s TV show by the same name.

Instead, as company co-founder Biz Stone explained in a post on the company’s blog on Thursday, Twitter wanted to re-invoke its vision of a “mobile status update.” And while this all may seem silly to some, Stone wrote that it is an attempt to recognize the larger importance of the Tweeters and their interactions.

Sure, someone in San Francisco may be answering “What are you doing?” with “Enjoying an excellent cup of coffee,” at this very moment. However, a birds-eye view of Twitter reveals that it’s not exclusively about these personal musings. Between those cups of coffee, people are witnessing accidents, organizing events, sharing links, breaking news, reporting stuff their dad says, and so much more.

It probably won’t change Twitter, Stone says, but at the very least it might make the service easier to explain to your parents.

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