Jan 4, 2013 · 2 minutes

Now that the tech press is guessing what Twitter's 2014 IPO valuation will be, and now that its most important year to date has drawn to a close, it is helpful to look back on the last 12 months and consider how the social media giant has helped shape new realities – 140 characters at a time.

Since I've written about the service quite a few times this year (examples here, here, and here) and use it every day, I'm pretty confident that I'm more qualified than anyone on the planet – or at least in my neighborhood – to conduct a considered historical analysis of the things that really mattered within Twitter's glorious bounds this year.

So, for your brief but intense pleasure (which is how it always is with me), I present to you my learnings about the service and its users in 2012.

# For some unfathomable reason, people are still not ready to respect the marketing genius behind savvy branding promotions in the wake of national tragedy.

# In order to secure the maximum possible number of Retweets, you should really be the President of the United States of America.

# Tweeting from an embassy without first checking with your boss is, as it turns out, not a marvelous idea.

# The phenomenon of elderly people confusing the “compose” box for the “search” box can still produce highly amusing results.

— Rupert Murdoch(@rupertmurdoch) May 5, 2012 # For the sixth year running, the most warped #humblebrag of the Internet – the complaint that one has oh-so-many electronic messages in one’s inbox – somehow failed to electrify a nation.

— Paul Graham (@paulg) December 12, 2012 # If quickly amassing Twitter groupies was a measure of one’s potential for getting laid, the Pope could totally lose his virginity right now.

# Especially when he Tweets hot stuff like this.

— Benedict XVI (@Pontifex) December 24, 2012 # Libya’s Deputy Prime Minister Tweeted an official statement about the attacks on the US consulate in Benghazi that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens. It was the government’s first statement in response to the attacks. I haven’t got anything facetious to say about this, but... pretty interesting, huh?

— Dr.Mustafa Abushagur (@MustafaAG) September 12, 2012 # Of course, the next day the deputy Tweeted about how many emails he had in his inbox.*

# Twitter lost its Weiner-grip on the politico-sex-scandal zeitgeist to plain old Gmail, thanks to boring old David Petraeus.

# Numbers of Tweets per minute during a political event might not be a particularly useful metric, but it'll definitely be reported in the news, every time.

# Basing an entire company on piggybacking off Twitter: officially a pre-2012 idea.

# Soon all sports stars will be first notified of their achievements on Twitter. The butt-slap is dead.

# Whenever a brand launches a hashtag-based campaign, it almost never goes wrong. Except always. Horribly.

# People who write “This” in front of Retweets should know that "This" is fast going out of fashion because of over-use in 2012. To add to the sense of profundity of a Retweet, they should instead consider pivoting to "That," perhaps with the help of one of those arrows that handily direct you to the location of the original Tweet --->

# I'm still bored by your beach Tweets.

* Not true

[Image courtesy Ape Lad]