Twitter and other messaging services have allowed populations in remote locations, like these herders in Afghanistan’s Wakhan Corridor, to better communicate, as well as organize politically and economically.

Photograph by Matthieu Paley, National Geographic
  • On July 15, 2006, the microblogging site Twitter launched. Twitter is sometimes nicknamed the “sms of the internet.”#shortmessageservice
    Twitter is an up-to-date site for personal messages. More profoundly, it’s a crowdsourcing platform.
    Twitter has been instrumental in communicating information about political movements (#arabspring), and natural (#haitiearthquake) and man-made (#bostonbombing) disasters.
  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    Arab Spring Noun

    (2010-ongoing) demonstrations and uprisings supporting democracy throughout North Africa and the Middle East.

    blog Noun

    (web log) website that contains online personal reflections, comments, and often hyperlinks provided by the writer.

    crowdsourcing Noun

    technique that enlists the public to assist with a specialized task.

    influential Adjective

    important; having the ability to lead the opinions or attitudes of others.

    instrumental Adjective


    man-made Noun

    produced by people.

    natural disaster Noun

    an event occurring naturally that has large-scale effects on the environment and people, such as a volcano, earthquake, or hurricane.

    platform Noun

    basic computer technology, including both hardware and software, sometimes geared to a specific purpose or application.

    political Adjective

    having to do with public policy, government, administration, or elected office.

    profound Adjective

    powerful or insightful.

    sms Noun

    (short message service) data application that allows short text messaging from one device (such as a cell phone) to another.