Twitter: Time's Person of the Year or yesterday's fad already?

twitterAccording to Folio magazine, the Internet microblogging site Twitter is in consideration to be named Time Magazine's Person of the Year (yeah, I think the idea is silly too).

However, the magazine's timing could be poor, as Mashable.com has pointed out that Twitter visitor numbers have plateaued and even declined slightly in the past five months. The site hit 23,579,044 unique visitors in August. By October, this number had dropped by over half a million.

At the same time, Twitter is busily trying out tactics to monetize its traffic, and companies are still rushing to use the site as a tool to cultivate "relationships" with customers and entice potential ones, neither of which use seems particularly cool or cutting-edge. Could these two moves backfire?

I see Twitter as the modern-day equivalent of mutual grooming in the ape community; a way to maintain contact and reaffirm one's place in the group. Like nit-picking, it's important to strike that balance between not enough grooming and too much (sometimes a matter of only a moment; just ask my cat). My experience with Twitter has been that few people can maintain that exquisite balance, and as a result many people quickly lose interest in the service.

As a tool, I suspect Twitter is ephemeral and ripe to lose its market share to the next bright shiny object that wafts across the Internet (remember MySpace?). Therefore, Time magazine may want to consider naming it the Person of Last Year. Oh, how fleeting the tweeting.

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