Twitter, the hot newish thing (for me that is) on the web. But what is it? And why use it anyway? I certainly wouldn't...or so I though. But lets see what Wikipedia says about Twitter:
Twitter is a free social networking and micro-blogging service that enables its users to send and read each others' updates, known as tweets. Tweets are text-based posts of up to 140 characters, displayed on the author's profile page and delivered to other users - known as followers - who have subscribed to them. Senders can restrict delivery to those in their circle of friends or, by default, allow open access.source: Wikipedia
As I understood Twitter it was just some other crappy thing on the web and I didn't want any part of it. I generally don't like mass sharing sites that just don't seem to fit any purpose other then to share crap. My friends for instance have tried and tried again but failed to get me on Hyves. A online community similar to FaceBook but originally Dutch only. Some way or another that just isn't for me. Maybe I'm harsh or maybe I have yet to see the use of that.
I am however seeing the purpose or the niche in which Twitter operates, mostly due to a buddy of mine. It is the place where neither a blog post on your blog, which are generally a bit more then 140 characters, or no blog entry at all exists. So when you have something to share but it's way to small for a decent blog post like a website, photo, video or any other experience in your life then Twitter is the way to go. Also because of the shortness of the Tweets the threshold isn't that high as for a blog, meaning you don't have to read so much. So from not using Twitter to a few Tweets a day, I must say I have a come along way.
I reckon I should go into some of the basics of Twitter, like: following people, followers, tweeting and application to use instead of the Twitter website. This might be interesting if you want to start to use Twitter or you just want to make your tweets better.
A tweet has a limit of 140 characters, so saving on character space by using abbreviations is key but if you sharing links you can very easy reach that limit. Using URL shorteners is a good way to keep your characters low when tweeting but don't use them if it isn't necessary, this way you don't get to depended on them. A good guide for tweets can be found at Twitip but also read up on Hashtags and RT which stands for ReTweet.
There are many Twitter applications for a vast array of platforms and they are quite essential as the Twitter website handles sluggish and managing your tweets and viewing tweets of people you follow can be quite a time taking business when using the site. Their are applications for your PC (Windows, Mac, Linux and cross-platform) and your mobile device (Iphone, Symbian, Android and more). It's all about what you want and prefer but I have tried several and my current choices are TweetDeck (on Windows and Ubuntu) and Gravity (on Nokia 5800 XM). TweetDeck uses and needs you to pre-install Adobe AIR but this does make it cross-platform and there for I use it under Windows XP and aswell as Ubuntu 9.04 . On my mobile phone I use Gravity which isn't free like TweetDeck but it is so very user friendly and manages Twitter like you wouldn't believe for a mobile application. I highly recommand it, so try out the trial version first.
Followers are people on Twitter that have taken interest in you and follow your tweets. First off it isn't a contest. That is one of the reasons I hate online communities like Hyves because people tend to collect and show of the number of "friends" they have. Maybe because I don't have friends :-P but it just annoys the hell out of me. It's great that people follow you, sharing is what Twitter is all about, but if you Follow somebody it should be because you have common interests with them or something along those lines. That brings me to Following, which speaks for itself. Find people whom interest you and follow them.
Some of the people I follow:
- René Slaats - He's a friend and generally has a good opinion about stuff
- Stephen Fry - Great actor, public speaker, tech savy
- Nixie Pixel - Besides the obvious, she's also very tech savy about Linux and Games
- Official Lowlands Festival twitter - A Dutch festival which I attend every year
- Nathan Fillion - An actor (Firefly) with amazing timing and especialy funny
- Justin Sandercoe - Great musician (guitar) with a very helpful website
- Shell Fu - Very helpful commandline tweaks, tips & tricks for *nix based OS.
- TweetDeck - The Twitter application I use with multipane view
- Eric Corton - Dutch radio DJ, singer and guitar player and album reviewer for NRCNext
- and more (requires Twitter account)
Only time will tell if I keep using Twitter but it's looking good so far.