5 Inspiring Uses for Twitter That Changed the World

twitter.pngI figured after yesterday’s post on Guy Kawasaki’s blog, I’d continue the trend, but this time into Twitter territory. Except this time I’d like to try to truly inspire you.

For those unaware with what Twitter is, in a sentence it is a mass communications tool which lets you post the status of what you’re doing, see what others, on a global scale are doing, and track certain terms within those global statuses. All of Twitter works either from the web at Twitter.com, from a desktop (similar to IM chat) client like Twhirl, or even from your cell phone. Not a user of Twitter and want to follow what I’m doing and discussing throughout the day simply via your cell phone? Text “follow JesseStay” to 40404 on your cell phone and you’ll see what I mean. (to turn them off just send “off JesseStay” to 40404)

Here are 5 inspiring uses for Twitter I have seen that in my opinion have in various ways, truly changed the world:

  1. Track Earthquakes — send “track earthquake” to 40404 on your cell phone, or via Twitter if you have an account, and every time anyone mentions an earthquake, you’ll get updates sent right to your cell phone or IM client with what people are experiencing at the time.

    This may not seem like much, but a month or so ago, I received an update for this tracked item from a user saying something to the effect of “woah – was that an earthquake?”. Suddenly I was receiving update after update on my cell phone, almost crashing my cell phone quickly showing there was a very noticeable earthquake somewhere in the world. Doing some research on each of the usernames, I quickly found out that there was an earthquake in the U.K. and I was getting updates from every single person in the United Kingdom that was experiencing the earthquake, at the time it happened. A search on USGS did not even show anything when I found out from Twitter. Twitter told me the news first.

  2. Help out in an emergency — I recently just started tracking the term, “911” on Twitter. I get a lot of updates from people talking about the date/event of 9/11, but what if someone was truly in an emergency asking for Twitter followers to dial 911? I could quickly be one of the first “Twitter emergency responders” on the scene to help out. 911 is a fairly common term, but what if collectively we all came up with a “Twitter Emergency Number”? We could use something that is not going to be used elsewhere, like the letter combination, “xzq”, and those following would be able to help out in an emergency. Join the Twitter rescue squad and “track 911”!
  3. Fight Forest Fires@Rumford (Rodney Rumford, my good buddy from FaceReviews.com) reminded me the other day about the use of Twitter back in the Fires in the L.A./San Diego area. Twitter was used to point out the status of the fires, locate where they were, and collaborate amongst those affected or threatened by the fires. A strong threat to peoples homes and lives quickly became a very personal event to the entire world using Twitter.
  4. Alert others and coordinate during child abductions — recently a young child was abducted and brutally murdered here in Salt Lake City. During the time of the child’s disappearance, I began thinking of suggesting Twitter as a tool to coordinate during the abduction. The abduction could be broadcast worldwide to alert the world in the event the child ventured any further than the home of the child, and at the same time volunteers could easily coordinate via cell phone and computer to track and update what areas had been searched, possible sightings, and more. I can only imagine what it would have been like if Twitter were around during the Elizabeth Smart abduction! One way of helping out in such efforts is to “track amber alert”.
  5. Raise awareness for Breast Cancer — one of the most inspiring uses for Twitter I have seen thus far has been during the diagnosis and experiences of Twitter user, @susanreynolds, who was diagnosed with Breast Cancer and Twittered it live to her Twitter follows. She shared her experience, and the pains she went through as they poked, prodded, and even performed surgery on the cancerous areas of her body. She used a bag of Peas to ease the pain, and as a sort of comic relief (and sign of her strong character), posted a picture of herself and the bag of peas.

    Quickly a movement of “Peas” spread through Twitter. Everyone began posting peas in their profile pictures in support of her fight with Breast Cancer. A fund was set up in her name, and Twitter users everywhere donated to the fund to raise money for Breast Cancer. Susan Reynolds inspired us all, through just 140 characters or less.

I have quite a few more of these examples I’ll post in a follow-up post, including a great mention by @DrBaher about the Twitter account, @makechange. Are there any inspiring examples you have seen through the use of Twitter?


19 thoughts on “5 Inspiring Uses for Twitter That Changed the World

  1. Twitter has helped me raise money for Cambodian Orphans. Last October, I used it to raise $2,000 in a few days and we were able to send two kids to college in Cambodia!
    In July, 2007, I used Twitter to raise over $4,000 to help sponsor the Cambodian BLoggers Summit and got several hundred t-shirts donated. Some more Twitter stories


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