Twitter is having a facelift, and in keeping with the Facebook trend started by the image-saturated Timeline profile, the social mediums are getting rid of words. It looks sleek and simple, but the picture-heavy pages suggest a dumbing down, of the respective websites and global society.
Andrew Keen (2012: 17) wrote about the world switching from Web 2.0 of Google and Wikipedia, defining the Information Age, to Web 3.0 of Twitter and Facebook, defining the Social Age, but the respective websites are leading us all back to the Caveman Age. The human species has always been social, and although many believe these websites are ring-fencing our physical interaction, they are actually allowing humans to prosper in interaction. But the human species is made up of highly intelligent beings, and this is being lost.
Many things separate us from animals, one of them being the development of our ability to read. We can make sense of a complex arrangement of shapes and squiggles. The process arguably began with cavemen drawing their visions on the walls of caves, then the Greeks, Chinese and Romans played their part of intellectualising the planet but we have reached the point where none of these higher privileges matter.
Already Twitter reduced humans to broadcasting within 140 characters. This has its uses - mass dissemination of one important breaking fact, otherwise known as news, is one - but they have demoted our ability to think even further.
Twitter CEO Dick Costolo proudly displayed the new-look of profile pages with the NBC's @todayshow picture dominating the right hand side of the page, normally reserved for the main reason people follow them in the first place - content. The stored images previously uploaded on to the Twitter feed have also doubled in size, clearly pushing the 'reader' in to a new role of 'looker'. The new, image-saturated set up is likely to have been produced to increase the visibility of mega corporations like NBC, and other ridiculously over-powering and unwelcomingly wealthy media conglomerates, we might never know the reason why.
Nevertheless, users will flock to the new Twitter layout like a mating call if it means they stay relevant, and God-forbid we lose that ability as well.
Follow Huw L. Hopkins on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@HuwLHopkins