I’ve been thinking about this for some time now, but never spitted it out. So here it comes:

Micro blogging is nothing more than IM for grown ups.
(and for those who don’t get it – IM stands for Instant Messaging, like a chat)

Before I posted this I did a quick & dirty Google search on ”twitter IM grownup” (and various spelling of the word for people who regard themself as more than kids). Certainly I am not the first to make this comparison. Actually, I hope to be flooded by commenters who claim to be more original than me (I know it’s I). But my point is not the similarities in terms of functions and behavior.

The BIG THING is that Twitter and the growing number of mikro blogging services (including add-ons to social networking platsforms such as facebook and ning) implies that grownups will understand the value of the tools kids use on a 24/7 basis. It just takes two things:

  1. As adult digital immigrants we have quickly (well…) begun to appreciate and put value on micro blogging behavior. Sure enough, not everyone will agree. But it seems that most people quickly get the point(s).
  2. Then it takes a moment of reflection. We have to think: ”gee, this is what they do”. And suddenly it will become apparent that it is OK to have the mobile on in classrooms, spend hours in front of the chat windows, feel stressed when we can’t connect (online), and so on.

After that comes the realization that our kids might figure out that they no longer can say ”you don’t understand what this is about – dude”. Well, I guess the youngsers don’t know what Twitter is. Just tell them:

Oh, it’s like IM – but for older folks

[Update 2009-03-11] Following Paul Bradshaw’s post today ”Why the kids don’t use Twitter…” in Online Journalism Blog I like to add a supplementary remark. Bradshaw is mainly pointing to Danah Boyd’s notion that Twitter is public space and kids (for various reasons) preferr more closed services. I am not so sure that always is true, even though that kind of behaviour/attitude is evident. I am asking myself if the ”don’t use” perhaps is because Twitter came in late. And it does not offer anything the kids don’t already have. But again, my point is not that kids don’t use Twitter. It is that grownups do, and thus will understand more.

[Update 2009-08-05] Pete Cashmore reflects today in Mashable on teens and twittering, based on recent data from Nielsen. Cashmore ends his post with ”Perhaps the more interesting questions: why are teens Twitter shy? And what does this mean for Twitter’s future? Let us know your thoughts in the comments”. So far 70 comments. One of my favs: ”What shocks me is that there are people over 55 who tweet…” ;)