I found a new tech toy today that I’ve been having a heck of a lot of fun with. I recognize that I’m fairly slow jumping on board with this one and have heard it talked about for several months; for some reason it just took me a little longer to fell intrigued enough to go and check it out. Basically Twitter is centered around the concept of micro-blogging. For those occasions on which you might not have quite enough to say to justify a blog post, email, or even a lengthy SMS text message, you might consider sharing a “tweet”. That’s the core concept at work here. No tweet can be longer than 140 characters and should simply be a few words to update your friends on whatever it is you’re doing right now.
For the ludites among us or for those who still respect and honor their privacy or uninterrupted alone time this might seem like your worst nightmare come true. I respect and understand the need for disconnection and often take times without any techno-communication devices at my fingertips. However, while I’m sitting here refactoring some code in our system (or not as the case may be while I type this blog entry) it’s rather nice to have the occasional tweet run by. I get a quick peek into an idea or thought from one of my friends and take a moment to think about what’s going on in their lives too. Twitter is not limited only to my close friends either, as I have already registered the Oregonian, CNN breaking news, and the Barack Obama campaign trail users in my friends list. I’m feeling quite amused watching headlines of news stories pop up for a few seconds or getting the latest update from the Obama campaign trail. If a particular tweet holds no interest, it disappears from view almost as quickly as it materialized never to be thought of again. For those that are of interest, I can flick my mouse over the “favorite” icon and mark it for review later. One can never tell how long the novelty of such tech toys will last. Some are uninstalled within a few days, while others (like instant messenger) are an integral part of my daily work life. Twitter has that feeling of longevity because it fills a neat little gap. When something isn’t quite big enough to justify a blog post, and I don’t have enough time to chat with one of my friends about it on IM, I can always take ten seconds to type less than 140 characters and share it with my friends.
I’m encouraging anyone who reads the blog or wants to keep in contact to check out www.twitter.com, create an account, and try it out for a few days. If it ends up in the techno toy trash bin a couple of days later then there is nothing lost, but for those who enjoy it this could be another great way to keep in touch in an increasingly disconnected world. It’s oddly amusing to see my friends tweet about what they’re thinking of for the names of their upcoming children, or even just what they might cook for dinner tonight. Then again, I’m a geek and I love this kind of stuff!
If you get twitter then look me up and “follow” my tweets. That’s the twitter paradigm. You choose to “follow” a list of people meaning that any time one of them tweets you will see it. When you tweet, you can “direct” a response to one particular person, or simply tweet to all of your followers. Either way, everyone who is following you will see it, the “direction” of a tweet to someone simply gives context to the conversation. It’s sometimes amusing to trace the conversations back and see where comments like “Only if the coffee won’t be offended!” originated from.
If you’re concerned about privacy, you can require authorization before allowing people to follow you. This means that you will receive an email each time someone wishes to sign up as a follower of your tweets where you get to approve or deny their request before they can do so. You can be as public or private as you wish. There is no requirement to tweet yourself either, in fact many of the community are simply interested in keeping up to date with the affairs of those around them.
Chalk up another great idea to the modern technological revolution. I love the internet. If it keeps me more in touch with my family and friends then I’m happy. :)
If you do create an account and want to follow me but are having trouble finding my username or just have questions about how to signup or use the software then just drop me an email and we’ll work through it together. See you online!