If you are online, watch the news, or talk to real people you already know about Twitter. It is quickly becoming one of the largest subscribed services online. Although the reasons behind this still somewhat confuse me, it is still a fact. I have avoided such things as social media and social networking, but I knew I was bound to get there at some point, so here is the first one focused on that idea.
Since the service first went online in 2006 it has grown consistently and now has over a million active users that account for the close to half a million “tweets” posted each day. This company started on a simple idea of an online SMS (Short Message Service). You will recognize this as the service that you use to text on your cell phone. The idea of the short 140 character message online seems easy enough. This isn’t new either. Plenty of services have had a “status” update for years. Starting with BBS systems and later popularized with IRC. The first easy status update I remember using was in the mid 90’s on ICQ, although they existed other places, maybe not as easily, for decades before that. Although I never remember this being a real big deal until the last five years or so with the introduction of the “social networking” sites. It makes a lot of since though. The idea in social networking is to communicate updates and ideas with people you know or want to keep track of, so the status update, that once just kept people up to date on if they were at the computer or not, would reasonably evolve to much more in these contexts. On top of the status update there has been this obsession growing with the SMS on cell phones. Even I prefer to do some communication over SMS.
So here comes Twitter that is going to merge the two. Not only did they do this they did it well. They put in the limitation of 140 characters, which is only limited on cell phones, and older ones at that. Smart phones are not as limited these days. Then they took the platform for a status update and made a new service altogether. Twitter can not only give you that social media profile feel, but it will allow you to also get alerts when people you follow update. You can choose all the people that you follow or just individuals. You can get the updates on Twitter only, as SMS messages to your phone, or even as IM’s. You can see who all is following you, and just by typing @ and then a user name, you can alert someone that you are replying to a message of theirs. You can send private tweets as well as public ones. You can even tweet through email, SMS, IMclient, or online through the web.
They have made it so easy to use and update that it really is no surprise that people have gotten so addicted to telling the world every move that they make. Comedians use it to post new jokes and promote themselves. Other famous people use it for self promotion and fan based information. Bands use it to post play dates. Pod casters and streaming radio shows use it to tell their listeners when they are about to go online. The list goes on and on. Oklahoma Forestry even has their own account that keeps its followers up to date on burn bans and other forestry information. Hell, you can follow me @blaxilver.
I still don’t understand the use of a character limited status update service, but I am not sure that I need to. I started using it to read my friends and families updates, and I found myself tweeting at times as well. It has become an addictive service to the point that some schools and work places, including my work, have blocked it from use on their computers. So kudos to those that came up with this one. Enjoy, and try not to think to hard about things that you enjoy.