Monday, January 19, 2009

A first and second glance at Twitter

I stumbled across Twitter some time ago, shortly after it came on the scene.  For those of you who are unfamiliar, Twitter is a social-networking/micro-blogging service, allowing for you to communicate with people who subscribe to your updates easily, with posts generally being limited to 140 characters.

My first impressions were "Hrmm, nice, and interesting...", and "I wonder who their main audience will be" followed shortly thereafter by "What could I possibly have to say that would be of some value and interest, while fitting into the 140 character restriction".

I tucked its discovery away in the back of my mind, and promptly forgot about it.  A good amount of time has now passed, and Twitter is back on stage, front and center.  I finally broke down and created an account just the other day, and have been listening to the chatter of a handful of people or so...ok, fifty of them, I admit.

Just with this brief re-exposure, a number of things pop to mind:

  • even with the rapid growth seen in recent months which some would describe as an explosion, I do get the impression that the explosion is just beginning, and that it's reaching a critical point which will see subscribership skyrocket
  • it provides an easy way to communicate with people of like mind, in a casual manner that allows for the rapid dissemination of information -- much more so than through the regular blogging's akin to having a casual conversation with a group
  • choosing who you follow (i.e. who's updates will show up on your radar) is easy, which is nice -- just like people having conversations, there are many who have interesting things to say, along with those who are happy to say any old thing at all...filtering out the signal from the noise is nice and easy in this regard
I'm happy to see how use of Twitter has evolved.  I'm not yet at the stage of putting it to use on my cell, although it's quick and easy to do so, for those who so choose.  A person can "Tweet" (broadcast) their updates easily via the web (including a mobile-friendly version), or via SMS.

If you're looking to get started, David Pogue's Twittering Tips for Beginners is a good read, as is Shayne Packer's Quick Start Checklist.

As is the case when having any civilized conversation, if you want people to keep listening to you, you don't just walk into a room and start rambling off any old thing that pops to mind.  Most people will quickly tire of repeated "On my way to the mall" updates and such.

What do I hope to get out of the experience?  Well, with the various personal projects I've been working on, I'm hoping to get some outside opinions on things...having worked in isolation for some time, it would be nice to bounce ideas off of others to make sure that I haven't fallen out of touch with what makes the most sense.  Ideally, I'll be able to give back to the communities, too, so that it's a nice two-way street.

I've already gained from listening to those I've chosen to follow...the signal to noise ratio has been good so far, and I've enjoyed the various information that's been passed on to date.

I'll keep you posted as my experience there evolves.


  1. I only temporarily turn on the mobile phone "device updates" setting when I need to reply to DMs or @me. I use a twitter app on my iPhone that is nice, but I find it too addicting.

    Thanks for linking to my blog Quick start checklist post!

  2. I hear you...Twitter has all it takes to be ridiculously addictive -- approach with caution!

  3. After observing for a while, it has me pondering etiquette regarding following followers and so on. Of course there are more blog posts on such niceties than you can shake a stick at.

    At first, I'd looked at the frequency and perceived merit of posts to see whether it would be a good idea to follow someone (i.e. they don't tweet every 3 minutes with what they just saw on TV ;) -- even after following a few hundred people, though, tracking specific conversations can be an interesting challenge...TweetDeck and have proven useful.

    I can only imagine that those with tens of thousands followed must rely solely on filters and @Replies...any observations on the twitter "elite" and interactions with the same?