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Are You on Twitter (Yet)?

Twitter bird

You’ve probably noticed Twitter by now.

Whether you love it, hate it or just don’t get it, there’s no getting away from it — Twitter is ‘going mainstream’, the way Facebook did a couple of years ago.

Which means it’s no longer just the geeks and early adopters who are using it. Famous people such as Barack Obama, Steven Fry, Oprah Winfrey and Britney Spears are on Twitter.

Twitter message by Tim Siedell: At last, Oprah has an outlet for her thoughts and opinions.

There’s a serious point to Tim’s joke — when a media diva like Oprah, who isn’t short of communication channels to choose from, starts experimenting with Twitter, there must be something in it.

But Twitter is not just for geeks and celebrities. ‘Normal’ people like you and me are using it. Millions of us. Which, again, suggests there’s something in it.

But what’s in it for you? [Read more...]

6 Reasons Why I Was Wrong About Twitter

Twitter bluebird
When I first heard about Twitter, I was horrified. Of all the weird and wonderful internet applications I’ve come across, this sounded like one of the more banal and pointless. But recently I’ve been forced to eat my words. I’m a convert. Here’s why…

What is Twitter?

If you’ve never heard of Twitter, this is the basic idea. You sign up for account at Twitter.com Whereupon you’re faced with the question What are you doing? and a box where you can type your answer in not more than 140 characters. When you’re done, hit the update button and your ‘Tweet’ (yes, they really call them that) is published on the Twitter site.

Each time you add a Tweet, it appears on the same page, which also has an RSS feed so people can sign up to ‘follow’ you. As an example, here’s my Twitter feed.

You can also ‘follow’ other people and have their Tweets delivered to you. Here’s the feed of people I’m following.

Why 140 characters? Because that’s the maximum number of characters in a standard text message on a mobile phone (or SMS message on a cellphone as I believe they are known over the pond). So not only can you follow people on the Twitter site, you can also send and receive Tweets on your mobile phone – i.e. you can be connected to Twitter anywhere with mobile phone reception.

Why on earth would you want to do any of that?

Good question. I couldn’t imagine why anyone would want to do it, so I didn’t, for ages. Even when people I respect were enthusing about it. Over a year ago I remember Russell teasing me about being behind the times, but as far as Twitter was concerned, I was happy to be a Luddite. It sounded like a combination of all the bad things about digital communication rolled into one, with none of the plus points.

Over the past year I’ve become increasingly mystified by the number of apparently sane and intelligent friends and acquaintances urging me to join them on Twitter. To the point where, like Facebook last year, I got the distinct impression that if I didn’t join in, I was missing out on something. [Read more...]