Twitters Top 10 most powerful tweets of 2010 might be better cast as "Making a difference in 140 characters or less."
Right after the devastating Jan. 12 earthquake in Haiti, the US military assumed control of the international airport. The relief organization, Doctors Without Borders, couldn't get the military to give them permission to land a plane with physicians aboard. Doctors tweeted the problem, and Curry took up the cause on Twitter as well, contacting Pentagon officials directly. The plane was allowed to land.
During the first week after the Haiti quake, communication was spotty. Landlines and cellphone towers were knocked out or jammed by concerned relatives outside the country. The Christian Science Monitor relied on Twitter and text messages to get information - and stories - out of Haiti during that period.
Twitter's No 3 most powerful tweet was another example of low-bandwidth text messages. Leigh Fazzina did not have cellphone reception after she had a bicycling accident in Connecticut. But text messages don't require as strong a signal as voice calls (as the Monitor's Africa correspondent has discovered in places such as Congo). In Leigh's case, her tweet brought EMTs to her rescue.
I've had a serious injury and NEED Help! Can somone please call Winding Trails in Farmington, CT tell them I'm stuck bike crash in woods.
In some cases, Twitter is simply the vehicle of choice for the powerful to bypass the traditional media, and make a public announcement.
For example, No. 6:
Or, in Ecuador in September when leftist President Rafael Correa was faced with military and civil unrest, he used Twitter to declare martial law – and was rewarded with tweets of support from other leaders around Latin America.
It's tempting to also see Twitter's Most Powerful Tweets list as simply marketing for the four-year-old company that's often poked fun at as enabling "babble broadcasting," a place for people to announce what they had for breakfast.
It's estimated that Twitter has 190 million users worldwide, tweeting 65 million times a day. But one study by Sysomos shows that 5 percent of the users make up 75 percent of the activity. And of those, almost one-third of the tweets are generated by machines.
Today, Twitter released their Top 10 Most Retweeted list, which offers a more entertaining look at how this communication tool is used. A personal favorite, from "alqaeda" (not verified) on Sept. 14:
Just noticed Twitter keeps prompting me to "Add a location to your tweets". Not falling for that one