Twitter: Social Microblogging

TwitterI’ve been dorking with Twitter .. still trying to figure out if it’s a great waste of time, or a lousy waste of time. I’m sure the cool kids are using it via SMS, but something about having my phone buzz me to learn that one of my friends is now eating a cookie just doesn’t get me that excited. The web site seems to be the best place for browsing and discovery, but for plain ol’ status updating, I’m using Twitterific for a local Mac app that grabs updated tweets every so often. PC users might want to opt for TwitBox.

I dismissed Twitter when I first tried it, but later read that what I experienced was typical, and exploring a bit can lead to an appreciation for the nuances of the service. But it wasn’t until I read Jeffrey Walker’s two Twitter posts that I decided to take another look.

With a little web spelunking, there’s an interesting social web under Twitter. (e.g. Jenna Jameson is “friends” with Barack Obama and John Edwards) but from what I can tell, the definition of “friend” is pretty loose. The “six degrees” aspect isn’t being visualized yet, but that isn’t to say people aren’t trying various mashups: witness David Troy’s Twittervision and Twittermaps. For more, check out the Twitter Fan Wiki.

I can see a great use of Twitter: as a (non-human) status service. In this specific case, you can see BART service messages – useful if you need real-time status updates for the Bay Area Rapid Transit system. Another: Red Sox updates! Having Twitter as a micro multicast/social alert system (or heck, an emergency broadcast system) is a great idea – it’s faster than the typical way one uses RSS. To that end, I wonder what Bob Wyman thinks of this “publish/subscribe” system.

I know I started the post sounding skeptical, but the Twitter crew did the right thing by providing an API to the service. That means it’ll become a platform, and taken in directions the developers haven’t thought of yet. One of these may end up being a killer app.

Twitter: Social Microblogging

4 thoughts on “Twitter: Social Microblogging

  1. Hang out with friends and co-workers on IM or IRC, I think you’ll understand Twitter pretty quickly. If you don’t, you won’t.

    The itch it scratches: status and context. Sure that tweet your friend posted about what they had for breakfast looks completely worthless. But the subtext is simple: I can chat. And at the same time it gives you something to chat about.

  2. i dont think twitter is or every will be “useful” but it is fun, interesting and a way to network… i guess that makes it useful in a sense just not the actual twittering

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