Top ten most influential of 2010: Twitter

#spill, #ausvotes, #auswaits - all familiar to citizens of the whale-themed social network, Twitter

Each Friday until the end of the year, Computerworld Australia is revealing one of the top ten most influential people, technologies and trends that shaped 2010 in Australia. The top ten was collated and determined by our editorial team and advisory panel of IT managers, industry experts, consultants and analysts. The list so far:

(See how we chose the top ten)

A Readers’ Choice poll is also open to determine what our readers think should be included, and what shouldn’t.

Coming in at number 8 for Computerworld Australia's top ten most influential of 2010: Twitter.

Twitter

While 2009 was the year Twitter took off in Australia, 2010 cemented its place in our social psyche. Once deemed a site where people shared only the mundane (and too much of it at that), or a repository for faceless marketing from public relations firms, Twitter has transformed into an all-too-valuable tool for everyone in the last 12 months.

Not only has Twitter appointed a new CEO and revamped its site design to keep up with demand, it’s been the centre of constant media attention, with everything from the 2010 Federal election to Masterchef being tweeted by thousands of Australians during the year. The iiNet/AFACT trial, sporting events, as well as political debates and turmoil all served not only to seed information at an unrivalled place, but also put Australia on the trending list on more than one occasion. The social network's powerful force even led to false reports that the Australian Commonwealth Games team had been banned while competing [Eds: Oh noes!].

While Facebook has attracted controversy throughout 2010 for infringing the privacy rights of its 500 million users and distributing personal information unwarranted, Twitter as a medium has become the good guy of social media, leveraged by everyone from pop stars to politicians in an attempt to distribute short messages and begin meaningful online discussions.

The recent Australian 2010 Federal election was one example of Twitter's use as a driving force for ideas, conversation and political upheaval distributed to our nations’ leaders and, for those without access a TV set, was how many 'tweeps' first found out who was going to lead the country through the #ausvotes hash tag.

Julia Gillard, who once indicated that she was not interested in tweeting, eventually caved to the pressure when she came into the role of PM, and joined opposition leader Tony Abbott in using the tool as a means to communicate with the country during the election. Twitter was, after all, pivotal to her rise as Labor leader, where the unforgettable #spill tag bled news faster than it could leaked out of caucus boardrooms.

Australian activist group GetUp! held the government to account by using Twitter as a way to bolster support for its High Court action that resulted in thousands of un-registered voters being given the chance to enrol to vote even after the electoral commission stopped taking applications.

In the enterprise, Twitter has become a bug-bear for some IT managers due to the proliferation of malware attacks over the network, affecting thousands of users on the social networking site in September this year. The security issues have not seen the popularity of Twitter diminish, however, with the site continuing to be a hot topic amongst CIOs who are still grappling with questions around whether their organisation should have a social media policy and if they do decide to go down this path, ask whether social media is really an IT issue at all?

With Twitter hoping to rake in over 1 billion users in the next five years, it looks as if its success is only just beginning, which is why it has earned its place in the top ten most influential of 2010.

(Do you agree with the Twitter's ranking in Computerworld’s top ten most influential? Let us know below or vote in the Readers' Choice award to have your say)

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