Thursday, November 18, 2010

Twitter: A Whole Lot of Tweeting Going On

When LSB Designs (gratuitous plug here) started putting our new website together a couple of weeks back, they suggested that I should include links to the major social networks. I've always been an active participant on LinkedIn and facebook, so that wasn't a problem. My previous experience with Twitter had been creating an account in 2007 and then wondering what to do with it. It was several years later when I learned that Jack Dorsey invented Twitter on a notepad while sitting on a children's slide in a park:

Dorsey's Blueprint for an SMS-based Social Network

I tweeted what I thought to be a couple of clever but mundane comments and realized that, without followers, my words were falling on the deaf ears of cyberspace. So, like Digg and Squidoo before it, I was the proud owner of another set of dust-gathering login credentials to a website of whose purpose I was unsure. Perhaps I'm just too anti-social to appreciate these things?

Even now - when over 65 million tweets are posted each day - I still have a feeling of embarrassment whenever I look at Twitter .... as if I'm some sort of tawdry voyeur peeking into the personal lives of others. In spite of this, I set up a new Twitter account; inked a quid pro quo 'follower' deal with a couple of my more erudite pals; and proceeded to visit a few of my favorite business websites to see what they were tweeting. I was pleasantly surprised with what I found!

The business-vs-social use of Twitter suddenly became apparent to me. I had always struggled with the concept that anyone could write anything of substance in 140 words or less - even @alberteistein has trouble making himself clear with such a small blackboard. The following picture epitomizes what I previously thought of Twitter:

With Twitter, it's not what you write
but what you link. I've always taken pride in my browser bookmarks - consummately organized and frequently updated. Now, there are millions of webnuts out there scouring the Internet and effectively doing my browsing for me. I just read their tweets; click on their links and retain/discard the content accordingly. The RT (Re-Tweet) feature allows me to pass on this same information to my (slowly) growing list of followers.

No more blushing when I open Twitter on my Blackberry. My next project - figure out what the heck foursquare does!

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