There's plenty of chatter going on about whether or not Twitter has any real value. Twitter is sometimes called a microblog. It's basically group SMS with a web interface and social networking features. Sign up, and you have a 140 character limit per post. You can post as often as you want - in theory you post throughout the day: heading to work, at Foo's for lunch, blogging, going to bed. Then you add friends to your network, and you can keep up with who's doing what when. You can see updates via the web, or receive them via SMS or IM. I signed up for a SXSW Twitter group (flock? conflagration? murder?) just for fun. When I sent a Twitter to the group number, it was broadcast on several plasma screens sprinkled throughout the convention center. I assumed I'd also see twitters on my phone from the rest of the group, but I only saw those of the developers and others in my twitter network, which was only Tori. Not too useful. Did I need to know that Jack was in line at Magnolia Cafe at 3am? No. No I did not.
After SXSW, Tori was none too happy. She emailed me:
I’m really aggravated at Twitter. Not at the technology, but at the sheer gall of the Twitter guys who evidently think I want to be on the end of a one-sided conversation. I’m completely convinced that’s what has happened. You sign up, and you get grouped with them, and no one else (unless you go to the effort of adding friends, like we did). Did you ever, once, see one of them respond to anything you had typed?
Because they aren’t listening. I’d even venture to guess they had some flag set so that they see only messages to one another. Meanwhile, I have to listen to their banter, and am bound to a group where there’s no chance of me have any sort of interaction with anyone new, or even participating. Gee thanks, that’s awesome technology, guys.
Put that in your blog and smoke it.
That said, now that I know how to use it, I can see how it could be useful.
- In a workgroup - making that final multi-day push to launch, get the whole group keeping each other up on their project status
- At a conference - keep up with who's going to which panel, where they're meeting for lunch
- Travel of any kind with a group - again, who's where?
Feel free to check out my Twitter page, and sign up to follow or as a friend. You can see that it's not getting a whole lot of use right now, but it's still kind of fun to play around with it.