At Long Last, A Good Use Of Twitter

Ken AshfordScience & TechnologyLeave a Comment

Celebrities tweet.  Politicians tweet.  News organizations tweet.  It seems that everyone (yes, me too) has something to tweet.

And that's fine by me.  Say what you want to say, and praise God that you must to do it in 140 charactors or less.

But I wouldn't argue that there is much social utility to Twitter.  It's just this… thing that's out there.  Use it, don't use it, follow tweets, don't follow tweets.  But why the obsessive media focus about Twitter? Seriously, who gives a damn?  Who gives a damn if Ashton Kuscher has more twitter followers than CNN?

That said, it was nice to read this story, because it actually made me think that Twitter does have limited social utility, for a limited set of people:

Adam Wilson posted two messages on Twitter on April 15. The first one, "GO BADGERS," might have been sent by any University of Wisconsin-Madison student cheering for the school team.

His second post, 20 minutes later, was a little more unusual: "SPELLING WITH MY BRAIN."

Wilson, a doctoral student in biomedical engineering, was confirming an announcement he had made two weeks earlier — his lab had developed a way to post messages on Twitter using electrical impulses generated by thought.

That's right, no keyboards, just a red cap fitted with electrodes that monitor brain activity, hooked up to a computer flashing letters on a screen. Wilson sent the messages by concentrating on the letters he wanted to "type," then focusing on the word "twit" at the bottom of the screen to post the message.

The development could be a lifeline for people with "locked-in syndrome" — whose brains function normally but who cannot speak or move because of injury or disease.

I just hope that this technological breakthrough will be permitted only for the handicapped.  The last thing I want is for people to tweet merely by thinking.