#OnlyOnTwitter: Our collective past

Friday, 4 May 2012

We talk a lot about how Twitter is an amazing real-time platform. The news of the hour, delivered to you within seconds. But while Twitter is always bringing us closer to the present, sometimes our Tweets are a way of looking back to the past. This week’s #OnlyOnTwitter is about looking backwards. We’ve collected musicians’ memories of MCA. We also have a short Twitter essay remembering NFL linebacker Junior Seau. And we have a project developed by NBC LA to live-tweet the Los Angeles riots from 20 years later. All examples of Twitter’s power to make you a part of a global, collective history. And to bring you closer not just to the present, but to the past as well.

Today we were heartbroken to see the news that Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys passed away. The news was shared via Tweets, passed around the world by fans whose lives had been touched by his work. And shortly thereafter came the memories— Tweets about listening to the Beastie Boys, Tweets about meeting “MCA”, Tweets about the impact his music had on all of music that followed. A flow of Tweets in which we were all sharing what this man meant to us as individuals, collectively.

I think this is something important about Twitter. On Twitter our individual memories become a collective history that is more powerful, more meaningful and more instructive than ever before.

Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys passed away this Friday. Across Twitter, musicians celebrated his work and remembered his impact on their lives and careers.

Remembering Junior Seau
After the suicide of Chargers linebacker Junior Seau, NFL player Eric Olsen remembered him on Twitter.

Re-living the Los Angeles riots
Twenty years ago LA erupted in a firestorm of riots after the Rodney King verdict. This year, NBC LA set up an account to tweet out updates from twenty years ago, exactly how and when they happened. These are excerpts from the first night of rioting.

White House Correspondents Dinner highlights
Every year the press and the President hobnob with celebrities and comedians for the a night of dinner, drinks and laughs. On Twitter, they call it #nerdprom. If you didn’t manage to get on the guest list, you could still catch the jokes on Twitter:

SF Ballet’s #AskADancer
Hours before the curtain raised for their performance of “Don Quixote”, the San Francisco Ballet took fan questions for the show’s star dancer.

#PandaAI titillates nation of panda fans
The National Zoo live-tweeted a scientific procedure that just happened to be artificially inseminating a giant panda named Mei. It was fascinating from a scientific perspective and also attracted no small amount of snark.

Kanye and Bieber tweet their way to collaboration
Two years ago Kanye West asked Justin Bieber to collaborate via Twitter. Now, as Kenny Hamilton reports, the collaboration is happening.

Louis C.K. is a fan of Girls
We have to imagine that when you’re Lena Dunham, creator of the new HBO hit Girls, it takes a lot to make your day. Like when a comedy hero tweets his admiration to you.

—Andrew Fitzgerald, Manager, Editorial Programming (@magicandrew)