On Wednesday Twitter released the Year on Twitter - the story of 2012 told through our users' Tweets.
The big stories were easily brought back to mind. The vivid image of Boris Johnson dancing at the Olympics created the highest spike in UK Twitter conversation, based on the number of Tweets sent per second. You may recall the episode. A cut-away during the Spice Girls closing ceremony performance revealed Boris channelling Shrek into a football terrace skank. The most retweeted message of the year - and of all time - featured Barack Obama clutching Michelle in a robust bodily embrace.
Most us saw that and wished ourselves on the receiving end. (Interestingly Michelle for her part is a neck-clutcher, not so good).
Four more years. twitter.com/BarackObama/st...
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) November 7, 2012
The top moments give us a strong reminder of the biggest heart-quickening moments of this glorious year. More interestingly though the analysis also surfaced some of the fascinating but quieter moments in the last twelve months. These "Only on Twitter" experiences highlight for us some of the ways that communication is changing.
For example we saw the first Cabinet reshuffled announced in 140 character bursts. In fact the history of reshuffles in hindsight looks like a news cycle waiting for a better way to announce it. Previously reshuffle details were whispered to news broadcasters or were gleaned from shouts from departing ministers as scurried back to their cars. An inelegant, filtered way to discover the occupiers of highest governmental office. This year a series of simple Tweets allowed the story of the reorganisation to be played out live, in real time.
PM appoints Jeremy Hunt as Secretary of State for Health. #reshuffle
— UK Prime Minister (@Number10gov) September 4, 2012
Another important event, the unveiling of the Archbishop of Canterbury was subject of feverish speculation. Rather than choosing a single news organisation for the announcement, the Church of England and Number 10 broadcast the message via the impartial channel of Twitter. These atoms of media are often too brief for a press release. The story is the announcement of the name. They are perfectly suited to the brevity of a Tweet. The news becomes accessible to all at the same time - and unfiltered.
In each of these instances the intermediary is being removed - news is now travelling directly to those interested from the source. It was telling that Eden Hazard chose to announce his own transfer to Chelsea in this way. Of course the story creates ripples across the media afterwards - but his fans heard it first. Hearing it first from the source is what fans have always longed for - and whether it is new songs from Blur or Coleen Rooney's pregnancy we are seeing this becoming the new norm.
I'm signing for the champion's league winner.
— Eden hazard (@hazardeden10) May 28, 2012
Blur this year won the Lifetime Achievement Award at The Brit Awards - but when they wanted to unveil 2 new songs, doing so via a lifestream on Twitter seemed like the best place to do so. The content travelled with the Tweet - everyone who retweeted it passed the lifestream on to their friends.
— blur (@blurofficial) July 2, 2012
Will.I.Am was scolded by the BBC (and the press) for tweeting live from the stage of The Voice TV show. He replied that he wasn't going to change and that this will be the norm one day. 2013 is likely to see more of the same. Hear it first on Twitter.
I told the bbc: "It may seem odd me tweeting...but trust me...this will be the norm one day & people are going to copy it"...#thevoiceuk
— will.i.am (@iamwill) May 8, 2012