You’ve probably heard of Twitter, now that Oprah has. It is a “micro-blogging” tool that lets you keep in touch with people by sending messages of 140 characters or less, maybe 30 words. Senders are supposed to answer the question, “What are you doing right now?”
This sounds like a lot of people telling each other they’re hunting for a renegade sock or catching the bus. But people and imagination being what they are, savvy practitioners assure us that Twitter has been put to a very wide variety of uses, not all of them snooze-worthy.
I was sold as soon as I heard how it was used last year to help get innocent men out of jail.
James Karl Buck, an American grad student, was arrested in April 2008 while covering an anti-government protest in Egypt. So was his translator, Mohammed Maree. Conciseness being the better part of valor, Buck sent a one-word “tweet” to his “followers” on Twitter. To wit: “Arrested.”
Recipients knew that Buck was in Egypt covering a political demonstration. So comprehension was immediate, action swift. Soon, Buck’s college hired a lawyer to represent him. Soon thereafter he sent another message: “Released.”
His Egyptian translator, Mohammed Maree, was not so lucky. Buck worked hard to help his friend. Twitter was one of his tools. Three months later, Mohammed was free as well.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.