Twitter is the current addiction of tech-heads everywhere, and for good reason. It’s bloody brilliant, that’s why. Rather than try to explain what twitter is (as that’s both complex, and simple, all at the same time) here’s a few of the things that make it so great. Hopefully you’ll get an inkling about the whole twitter thing along the way. If you do, follow me and say hi
1. One line microblogging
All those half-thought ideas you have? Stick ‘em on twitter. It’s the store for all your random thoughts, notes and stuff that might make a blogpost one day, but not right now. Even if it’s a quote that made you laugh from a movie, or whatever, stick it up on twitter for all to see. Maybe that one-liner will make a great blogpost later, maybe not. Don’t matter. It’s on twitter.
2. Minimal by design
Twitter doesn’t have tags. It doesn’t have massive over-the-top themes. You can’t edit your posts once they’re live. Heck, it doesn’t have anything beyond a small edit box, an rss feed and a rudimentary reply system. Add to that the 140 character limit and you’ve got a system that’s brilliantly, gloriously restrictive. Let me explain.
Other systems add in all the bells and whistles, and they’re frankly poorer for it. Twitter just gets the job done without fuss. More options means more time spend fiddling with your crap rather than just posting and getting on with life. Twitter gets it right.
3. Expandable by design
…but minimal doesn’t mean boxed in. Twitter has spawned countless clients for all systems (of which twihrl is arguably the best) so you don’t even need a web browser open to tweet. Personally, I’ve always got a browser open, but each to their own. You can even post tweets from your cellphone, and get ‘em back too, should you wish. This means twitter is great for keeping in touch with a lot of folks where ‘net access is scarce.
4. It’s not about you, it’s about them
Don’t make the mistake of thinking twitter is like IRC; it’s not. In twitter, you choose who to follow and they become a part of the buzz in your head. You see when they wake up, drink their first coffee and help out if they ask a question to which you know the answer. It’s like stepping into a crowded room and hearing the conversations buzz around you. Twitter is the life of the Internet, in real time, in which you’re just one more voice in the crowd. And that’s pretty compelling.
ChaCha is a human search engine that gives real ansers to real questions from real people. Just send a message to ChaCha and you’ll get an answer, frighteningly quickly. For example, I wrote in my twitter box:
- @ChaCha What was the first ever TV sci-fi series?
A few minutes later I received the reply:
- @greywulf answer: Do you mean on the sci-fi channel, or ever on TV?
- @ChaCha The first sci-fi series ever on TV, anywhere.
And I received back:
- The first in the world was produced by the BBC on February 11 1938. The piece was a 35min adaptation of section of play R.U.R.
Now, that’s a very difficult question to answer using Google alone. You’d need to be a query gure just to phrase it correctly and be willing to wade though a load of pages before finding the answer. Also, as far as I know, Google has never, ever asked anyone to clarify what they mean when they’ve entered a query.
What’s more impressive is I received the answer in well under 10 minutes from me asking, while ChaCha was also fielding questions about symphonies, what’s on TV, and flight prices. These people do not sleep and drink far too much caffeine, I’m sure.
In short, ChaCha rocks. And it’s right there, in twitter.
6. Twitter plays nicely, everywhere
At the top of my HomePage I’ve got my latest twitter post. It automatically updates my status message on Facebook. You can put your last handful of tweets into the sidebar on your blog. As it’s an rss feed you can read posts from your twitterfriends in Google Reader or whatever else you use. Twitter plays well, uses open standards and doesn’t try to rock the boat with spurious pointless “additions”.
7. Twitter lets other things play with it, too
Then there’s Twitterfeed. This automatically posts a tweet for you whenever you make a blogpost, meaning all your twitter friends (and anyone else via the public timeline) see you’ve got a new post on your blog. That’s more blog exposure, meaning more page hits. If people like what they see they’ll follow you on twitter, meaning they’ll see your next blogpost, meaning more hits, meaning…..
Cyclic growth. See? Don’t you just love it?
It works in practice too. I get more hits on my blog via twitter than I ever did through services such as Blog Mad and the like.
8. You can turn off the spam
Let’s face it; spammers and marketers are everywhere. They’re the scum of the Earth and deserve nothing less than a slow and painful death. Twitter’s solution is simple – just don’t Follow them. If that doesn’t stop ‘em, Block ‘em. The first option means you don’t see their posts. If they try to send you messages directly (some do, most don’t) then Block them, and they’re dead to you. It’s a simple solution without all that silly over-engineered messing with Captcha we’ve grown to know and hate.
9. Community, community, community
As far as I know (may be wrong here), twitter doesn’t have a forum. It is the forum. How you use twitter depends a lot on who you follow. If most of the folks are photography buffs (say) then you’re going to see mainly photo-related posts, mixed in with all the fun lifestuff that makes twitter special. If you’re into cycling and follow that particular crowd you’ll see chatter about great routes, wheel stizes and the like. In effect, you’re building your own personal forum full of only people you like. If only we could do that in real life, eh?
10. Cool hacks ‘n’ stuff
The world needs more cool hacks, and twitter has plenty. Twitterhacks lists ‘em all, from folks who got their plants to use twitter when they were thirsty to Twittervision, the awesome real-time (-ish) Twitter/Google Maps mashup.
Follow that link, sit back for a few minutes and watch the whole world talk if you want proof Twitter will take over the world.
You might just realise that it already has.