It all started when they changed the question from “What are you doing? to “What’s happening?”. Or more likely, the Twitter powers-that-be were addressing a trend they’d been noticing for a while: most people were using Twitter as a news platform, rather than a social network. I’ve heard plenty of people say (in various ways) that Facebook is for people you know, while Twitter is for things you know – ie. the latter being a platform for subscribing to a vertical list of subjects you’re interested in, via people.
Recently, four Korean researchers who collected all of Twitter’s data over a month’s time released their research on it. This is the first quantitative study of the entire Twitterverse. They analysed “.. the entire Twitter site and obtained 41.7 million user profiles, 1.47 billion social relations, 4,262 trending topics, and 106 million tweets.” Impressive. They did this in order to see if the way people use Twitter’s mechanics (follow, retweet etc) set it apart from other social networks. Secondly, they wanted to see if the results demonstrated characteristics of news media.