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Twitter? Hmm.

Ok, I have a Twitter account now. Many people really enjoy this service, so I’m ready to give it a shot. But I have a confession: I don’t really get it.

Is this just a passing fad? Is it a revolutionary mode of communication? Or is just fun? Why should I invest the time?

An any rate, I’ve posted my first short message to tell the world what I’m up to. I have microblogged. By ‘the world’ I mean that I am currently following/followed by only two people: a friend of mine in San Diego…and Barack Obama.

Actually, I just added Obama to my list because, well, why not. He’s surely in friend-acceptance mode right now and I support his candidacy. Don’t mind getting updates about what he’s up to. And I’m sure he will eagerly read my tweet. Right.

Anyhow, I have more questions:

Why is Twitter substantively different or better than instant messaging? Why not send an email? Is it about networking? Is it about popularity? Is it about exchange of information? And here’s the real question on my mind: is there such a thing as being too connected?

I can see that what sets a microblog apart from email or chat is universal availability/viewability across time. In other words, it links ‘friends’ together with added benefits: anyone can peek in to read the posts of others (which encourages networking among like-minded people, I assume) and it’s a sort of time-logged journal. By this, I mean it’s like a shared microjournal among peers that persists in a thread across time into web eternity (I guess that’s why it’s called a microblog ā€” no big revelations here). Is this a good thing? Maybe.

Whatever is behind this phenomenon, I’m going to try to get into the social web thing a bit more. I’m still pondering, though, the limits of sharing personal information.

Are you a Twitter user? What do you get out of it? Why do you do it?

  1. I was in the same boat you are when I joined. I didn’t really know anyone on Twitter, didn’t really see what use it was, but decided to try it out because a) that many people can’t be wrong, and b) I desperately needed some form of human interaction during the day.

    I use Twitter a lot (http://twitter.com/onecrayon/“ rel=”nofollow”>onecrayon) because it’s a great way to participate in a range of casual conversations. Since I work from home, I’m pretty isolated most of the day. Twitter gives me a little bit of the kind of random interactions you might get in an office. I’m following and being followed by a number of web designers, so occasionally it helps with the job, even. Since a few of my college friends who I don’t get to see much are following me, it also gives me a very low-maintenance way to keep in touch with them.

    The real benefit of Twitter for me is that it’s painless (I just type a message in http://iconfactory.com/software/twitterrific“ rel=”nofollow”>Twitterific; no need to connect, check for people who are “online” etc.) and any given message reaches a range of different people (whether they’re online or off) who can then engage in conversations with me if they feel like it.

    Welcome to Twitter! It’ll be fun to see you’re reactions to it over time. I feel like it’s a service that generally grabs you (whether or not it makes sense at first) or that over time turns out to be pointless.

  2. (So I started to “follow” you but I had to run fetch my son at a birthday party, and by the time I got back I saw you “following” me šŸ˜‰ ).

    The way I see Twitter is as a micro-blogging tool. When I see a site that can be of interest, or if I want to tell my students that the latest slides are online, I do it using Twitter. One could also use it to keep friends or close family informed (as in “my plane just landed, all is fine”), or when having a large group of followers, to seek help or do quick surveys.

    I really like Twitter. I’m following a few persons, adding them and removing them regularly. It’s not as involved or synchronous as chat, it’s not as personal as email… it’s just for me a way to keep an eye on what goes on.

    And I like its “publish/subscribe” model, which I find very simple yet effective.

  3. Been on vacation for a week and just catching up on your posts. When I got to this one, I zoomed right over to the Twitter site. I watched the video and then read what “Twitter” is all all about.

    I’m shaking my head now and saying “huh??”. I have to agree with your post. I just don’t get it. Seems like there are other networking sites out there that keep folks in touch in a much more agreeable manner. Just my opinion. I think I can find way better ways to “twitter” my time away.

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