What’s with this Twitter thing?

I know many people just don’t get Twitter, even when it is explained to them, however given the growth of the tool there must be “Something about Twitter?”

Twitter Life Cycle

(From http://cogdogblog.com/2007/04/26/splj-20/)

But what is it?

Over the last week I have seen a few blog posts once again trying to sort out what it is and a couple knocking it down again. Let us explore.

One of the better overviews of what is Twitter was done by my Twitter mate Laurel Papworth who gives us her 3 uses of Twitter which fits about 80% of how I use Twitter, they are:

1. Testimonials and Status Updates (people)
One, Twitter is good for getting a brief update on the status of the people in my social network.

2. Filter, Discoverability, Social Search (and share)
Second, Twitter is excellent at linking me to other sites. Not people but sites.

3. Conversation and Discussion
Twitter is also acting as an (almost) instant chat channel for all my friends.

The only piece I see Laurel missed was the “flash-gathering” aspect, while it could be part of point 1, I see it as important enough to have its own bullet point. What do I mean? Yesterday on the way to Sydney I twittered:

(For those not in Australia Gungagai is between Melbourne and Sydney and has a famous dog sitting on a tucker box.) Within 20 minutes I had an invite to a meetup on Sunday. This is not the first time, quiet often my social engagements are impromptu gatherings based on other people’s tweets. I have caught up with people for lunch, coffee, drinks, dinner, been invited to movie nights, games of ping pong all sorts of social interactions. (This also could be that my social life is lacking as well.)

I would also like to see point 2 expanded for specifically news, many people within my Twitter network get breaking news via Twitter. Lots of news seems to break first on Twitter before it hits the mainstream news organisations, other times people receive news on Twitter without having to visit mainstream news organisations.

Now back to 2 posts that stirred me into action.

First Simon Chen from EightBlack say he still doesn’t get Twitter and that maybe he is too old at 41. Simon shame on you for even thinking it is cause you are too old, I know 20’somethings who don’t get it, getting Twitter has nothing to do with age. As with any tool it comes down to how you use it, and how you integrate it into your life. But one downfall/detractor of Twitter to remember is without friends it is very boring and there is nothing to get. Which is why several people have proposed that we need Twitter guides to help new users getting started. This has started to happen where regular users have started to “promote” new users/friends to help them connect with others to begin their Twitter journey. Oh, yes Simon being one of your Twitter friends means I probably do need to get a life :-).

Second up is James Farmer, who also doesn’t get Twitter which is cool. I am not sure I agree or disagree with James that Twitter is not micro-blogging, we would need to first agree on what is blogging. But it is publishing if we assume that publishing is “the activity of making information available for public view“, just not everyone is interested in consuming the information that is put other there, I feel the same way about Readers Digest.

A final thought if you are in Sydney on Sunday come join me and a bunch of Twitterers for drinks from 2pm at Glenmore Hotel.

3 thoughts on “What’s with this Twitter thing?

  1. I love the stop for Dog on Tucker Box- quintessential Aussie lore. I stopped there in 2000:

    Good points on the reactions various people have to twitter, very often the result of looking in at it from the outside. And I am wary of any sweeping generalizations; the internet is just too big and wide to make such pronouncements.

  2. hello dear,
    I differentiate the tools for communication from the purpose or style of communication. So your lunch – which is actually a Testimonial “I’m hungry”, “I’m driving in Woop Woop” moves into a Communication piece “anyone want to meet?” “let’s have lunch” Testimonial and Filters and Communication are HOW the tool is used. The examples you actually give are – lunch? breaking news – is the WHY. I could write a whole different post just on the ‘whys’. 🙂

    Part of the WHY is Events – your organising lunch through twitter is an example. News breaking such as the Bhutto assassination is also an example of an Event in social networking: don’t think of real world events. It’s more of a viral spike of activity preceding a call-to-action (lunch) and a tailing off. BTW did you know that 20.3% of people meet other members offline at least once a year? I expect that to grow.

    Another part of the WHY might be Rituals – ‘thank yous’ is a good example: as in “thank you for that link”. Birthday rituals, welcome to Twitter rituals.

    Twitter is pretty close to synchronous commucation – not quite as instant as IRC but close. Which is why we use Twitter for breaking news and viral-spike-Breaking-News. After all, Facebook or your blog is not somewhere you sit, reloading, waiting for breaking news, now is it? 🙂

    My longwinded way of saying: you are right, but I was covering Hows, not Whys.

    BTW I commented on James’ piece – thanks for the link. I sent him stuff on Twitter for education. There’s heaps of Twitheads that are Tweachers. Heh. I’m developing a lispth.

  3. Laurel, thanks for the comment it has made me really think hard about the original post.

    I agree the flash-meetup aspect of twitter could/is be part of the testimonials/status updates usage. Just finding it a very good tool for “real world” social interactions, which if used more would increase that 20.3% figure a bit :-).

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