April 09, 2008
What's Twitter? Twitter started as a way to keep track of people. In 140 characters, you tell people what you're doing, right then. You can Twitter from a desktop or a cell phone, and people who follow you get all your Tweets delivered to them.
It's become something more than that, though. Through strategic following, you can keep on the cutting edge of what's happening in technology in general, and in new media in particular. You can carry on conversations with people who you would never be able to in "real life" (a few weeks ago, I talked popsicle sticks with Michael Geoghegan). But more importantly, you can find out what's going on in whatever you're interested in.
Twitter right now seems focused on tech issues. But we're not just talking nuts and bolts here -- you can learn as much about how people are using technology as you can about the hardware and software that they're using. Scott Sigler, J.C. Hutchins, and other novelists talk about how they're using new media to promote their books. Must be working -- Sigler's novel Infection debuted at #1 in Horror at Amazon.com. Any podcaster worth their salt is on Twitter, interacting with their fans and getting tips from folks like Geoghegan and Paul Colligan, whose post on his own Twitter habits inspired this one. And you can get good advice from people with all kinds of skills and backgrounds, if you just take the time to ask and listen.
There are some people who don't use Twitter well. There are a lot of people who have thousands of followers but only actually follow a handful, and that defeats the purpose. At least it seems like it to me. I follow almost everyone who follows me (the exception being a couple of obvious spammers). And there are people who wouldn't find Twitter useful; the main conversation seems to be Web 2.0 related, so if you're not doing that, your Twittering may seem a bit dull.
But I'm totally into the whole idea of new media. There's lots of promise in it, and there are a lot of people who are doing things with it that can only be described as groundbreaking. And those people talk about what they're doing on Twitter. They give advice on Twitter. They give support on Twitter.
And that's why I'm on Twitter. And in just a few moments, a link to this post will be there, too.
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