In July 2006, Twitter launched its short message service (SMS), allowing people to create an account and send short messages that are transmitted to mobile phones and displayed on the Twitter site.
Celebrities, for example, send out short messages or tweets announcing their daily and special doings. Political organizations and environmental groups send out updates, and sports teams send out the latest on their players. At Twitter, a short message is known as a “tweet.”
This sort of information-sharing technology is sometimes referred to as Web 2.0, to indicate it is a step beyond the conventional Internet technologies of web pages and e-mail.
While Twitter is currently crowdsourcing (asking for volunteers) to translate its page to other languages, currently the interface is available in English and seven other major languages, and the tweets are overwhelmingly in such major languages.
People seeking information updates on a topic can go to the Twitter site and search for keywords to find someone who tweets on a subject they like. It can be difficult, however, to find tweets in lesser-used languages.
To address this issue, Kevin Scannell has set up Indigenous Tweets as a place to find people who tweet in your language. The home page shows the languages tracked—currently 39, up from the initial 35—as well as other information such as how many users tweet in each language and how many tweets have been sent out.
To use Indigenous Tweets, click on a language to see the top tweeters in that language (up to 500), then click on a tweeter to go to Twitter.com and see that person’s tweet feed. From there, you can sign up to the feed if interested. Both Twitter and Indigenous Tweets are free services.
As a companion to Indigenous Tweets, Scannell has set up a blog with the same name, Indigenous Tweets (though at a different address).
- The total number of tweets tracked so far in the 39 languages offered on Indigenous Tweets exceeds 1.2 million.
- The top volume language is Kreyòl Ayisyen or Haitian Creole (hat) at nearly 315,000 tweets.
- Although less in volume, Euskara or Basque (eus) has more tweeters than any other language at 2069.
- Among the languages on Indigenous Tweets is Cornish (kew), a language that fell asleep in England in the eighteenth century and began to be revived at the beginning of the twentieth. It now has L1 or native speakers.
- Anishinaabemowin or Ojibwe (oji) is represented with 15 tweeters and Sámegiella or Sami (family) with 58.