People check mobile devices whilst standing against an illuminated wall bearing Twitter Inc.'s logo in this arranged photograph in London on Jan. 5, 2016.
Chris Ratcliffe—Bloomberg / Getty Images
By Lily Rothman
March 21, 2016

It was a fateful day exactly ten years ago, at 3:50 p.m., that Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey sent the first public tweet. It wasn’t a particularly evocative message (“just setting up my twttr”) but it marked the arrival of a powerful new cultural force.

In the next year, thanks in part to a persuasive showing at the 2007 South by Southwest festival, where it was named the best blogging tool, Twitter had made its way into the mainstream.

Twitter’s first appearance in the print pages of TIME came in April of 2007, when Lev Grossman described it as one more reason to worry about the consequences of our increasingly connected world:

One early front runner for the title of the “YouTube of 2007” is a service called Twitter. Twitter enables you to broadcast to the world at large, via the Web or phone or instant message, tiny snippets of personal information: what you’re doing, what you’re about to do, what you just did, what your cat just did and so on. Twitter does the Internet equivalent of splitting the atom. It creates a unit of content even smaller and more trivial than the individual blog entry. Expect the response to be suitably explosive.

There’s something delightfully self-deprecating about that name, Twitter—we’re all just a bunch of happy birdies, tweeting away in our trees!—but it also makes me nervous. It’s like the cocaine of blogging or e-mail but refined into crack. Internet addiction is an old story, but we’re on the tipping point of a new kind of problem that might more broadly be called an addiction to data, in all its many and splendiferous forms.

Read the full story, here in the TIME Vault: The Hyperconnected

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