Topic – Technology: The future of Twitter

The future of Twitter

Here is a link to the listening text we worked on in class recently:  Twitter ‘could go the way of the dodo’  BBC Best of Today, 21st March 2011 (http://news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/today/newsid_9431000/9431215.stm)

I’m not sure how long the link will work as the BBC might remove the content sooner or later so here is an alternative:  http://www.mefeedia.com/watch/37183366

This was the activity we worked on in class, based on the CPE listening test, part 2:

Twitter is five years old today, but will it go the same way as Bebo and Myspace and eventually lose the interest of the public?  Brent Hoberman, co-founder of lastminute.com and Aleks Krotsky, social psychologist at the Oxford Internet Institute, reflect on the past half-decade of tweeting.

1)  It tool Twitter three years to produce one billion tweets but the number is now ……………………………………………

2)  Twitter has grown incredibly in 5 years and it is now approaching …………………………………… users.

3)  Brent says that Twitter is now looking at revenue …………………………….. for the future.

4)  He says Twitter is a wonderful feed for ……………………………………………………… communication.

5)  In Brent’s point of view, Twitter will be part of the next ……………………………………………………………………..

6)  Aleks says that many Internet phenomena can be ………………………………………………………….

7)  She says that a lack of a ……………………………………. could mean that Twitter will not achieve longevity.

8)  She says that the web encourages ……………………………………………… so people might move en-mass to a different online service.

9)  Brent mentions that Twitter is selling a rich ……………………………….. to Google and Facebook.

10)  In the future, Brent says Twitter can make money from …………………………. the data it has about people.

11)  Aleks says that Twitter could be ……………………………………. by other companies.

12)  Brent describes Google as a “search” facility, Facebook as “social” and Twitter as …………………………………………..

13)  Aleks concludes by saying that if Twitter puts …………………………………….., there is the chance that it might die out.

vocabulary focus:

Categorise the following words and expressions according to whether they talk about:  becoming extinct / being popular for a long time / being popular for a brief period

  • to die out
  • to be a passing fad
  • be defunct
  • to be a short-lived craze
  • to stand the test of time
  • to have lasting appeal
  • be obsolete
  • to go the way of the dodo/dinosaurs etc.
  • to hold its own in the long run
  • in for the long haul
  • become passé
  • become outmoded
  • fleeting (adj)

Which of the expressions are more informal?

In class we also discussed the future of some common objects which have stood the test of time for many generations but might face an uncertain future:  books, petrol cars, offices, CDs, cinemas, newspapers etc.

We also revised the use of participle clauses to provide justification for ideas and expressions for talking about future possibility and probability:

Participle clause Expression of possibility / probability
Having seen how…Given that…Taking into account how/that…Considering how/that…

Knowing how/that…

Bearing in mind how/that…

Looking at this from a long/short-term perspective…

…it’s inevitable that……x (be) bound to……there’s a good/strong chance that……there’s only a slim chance that…

…I can’t really see…

…I would (n’t) bet on…

…it’s just a question of time until…

…and combined these using the pattern:  participle clause + justification for prediction + expression of probability/possibility + prediction

Here are some examples:

Knowing how paper dictionary sales are falling due to the popularity of computerised versions, I reckon it’s only a matter of time before we see the same happening with novels.

Considering that newspapers are losing out on advertising revenue as circulation figures drop, aren’t some of them bound to go out of business sooner or later?

Being old enough to remember cassettes I know how quickly old formats can become defunct so I wouldn’t bet on the CD being around in 50 years to come.

Textualising:

Imagine you are the chief executive of a large chain of cinemas.  What are the main threats facing your business?  What ideas can you think of to ensure that your cinemas will be alive and well in the future?  Write a short text (120 words or so) for a speech you are giving to your managers  at an Annual General Meeting which outlines some of the threats your business faces and ideas for overcoming them.  This text gives you the opportunity to use some of the language features which appear in this post.  There are some ideas below but you can add to these.

Strengths Weaknesses
Movies still as popular as ever.Sound and vision of cinema still beats home cinema technology.  Recession means fewer visits to the cinema. Buildings a bit dated.Public perception is that we’re overpriced.
Opportunities Threats
Appeal to wider audiences – e.g. Bollywood not just Hollywood.Show alternatives to films – e.g. live concerts in the USA screened live in Spanish cinemas / Opera from Milan / ballet from Russia screened live in the cinema at affordable prices / sports eventsUse screens and auditorium for company presentations.Use screens for gaming events with console technology. Home cinema technology improving all the time and getting cheaper.A generation of kids who have grown up with downloading films – cinema just not part of their lives.

Further reading:

For further coverage of the first five years of Twitter, check out:  Twitter celebrates its fifth birthday (BBC News, technology, 21st March 2011).

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Filed under Advanced Professional English, C2.2 - Topics, C2.2 - Vocabulary, C2.2 - Writing

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