- 18 Dec 09, 09:28 GMT
I know how much some of you hate stories that mention a certain microblogging service - but Twitter is the source of two interesting stories today.
First of all, it disappeared for about an hour at around 06:00, with the website and Twitter applications both failing to function.
Screenshots on some blogs appear to indicate that Iranian hackers - angered by Twitter's supposed role in fomenting opposition in that country - took the site down.
If so, it's a powerful demonstration that social networks are becoming an important battleground, both for liberation movements and for their opponents.
And there's another story rather closer to home. As snow sweeps across Eastern England, Twitter is once again a useful place to find information - as long as it doesn't crack under the pressure.
But amid the steady stream of tweets about snow depths and road conditions, a row has broken out over something rather peculiar - just who owns the UK snow?
Or rather who owns #uksnow, the "hashtag" used by twitterers to identify and find tweets about this subject.
Back in February, when the snow was so heavy it even kept hardy London children from school, an inventive web developer called Ben Marsh saw all the #uksnow tweets and had an idea. Using their postcodes, he plotted them all on a map giving a real-time picture of what was going on.
Yesterday he resurrected the idea with a new map, which you can find here.
I had already said on Twitter that I was planning a trip to Cambridge today, and Ben kindly sent me a message drawing my attention to his map. But minutes later. I was getting a message from another twitterer, Julian Bray.
First, he advised me to "forget cambridge a whole snow dump tonight" then went on "ps I invented the #uk snow hashtag last year and March(sic) hijacked it! ie my intell.prop."
It seems that Mr Bray is cross that his "invention" of #uksnow has been forgotten, with all the recognition going to Ben Marsh. I think it's the first time that anyone has claimed intellectual property rights to a hashtag.
All sorts of possibilities open up - after all, popular hashtags can be used millions of times, so maybe I should now create #hashtagdispute, assert my IP rights, and demand payment every time it is used.
All very interesting - but perhaps less important than the apparent cyber-warfare between Iran's government, the opposition and Twitter.
Social networks are transforming the way we communicate; they're also becoming the place where we fight - over issues big and small.
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