Why I love Twitter…
I want to talk about why I’m such a big fan of Twitter. I want to help people who don’t understand what exactly it is, understand. I want to make those people who don’t really care, care. We have reached an era of technology unparalleled in the history of the world, and we should all be taking full advantage of this to make our lives better. Sounds like a bit of hyperbole? Well, allow me to explain.
I first signed up for twitter about 3 weeks ago. I heard heard, seen, read so many articles, news stories, and broadcasts repeat the phrase “follow me on twitter”. I had no idea what that meant, so I decided to find out. Upon reaching the homepage (www.twitter.com) there is a description of the service. It reads:
Twitter is a service for friends, family, and co–workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: What are you doing?
I, like so many others, thought ok so basically its a bunch of people updating their Facebook status. Once I started getting the hang of things I quickly realized that’s hardly the case. Each post, which is referred to as a “tweet” is limited to 140 characters, is used for anything from posting newsworthy links, pictures, quotes, or other important information. One easy example is the airplane that crash landed in the Hudson River a month or so ago. The first photograph of the plane was taken by Janis Krums on his cell phone and posted to twitter with the caption “There’s a plane in the Hudson. I’m on the ferry going to pick up the people. Crazy.” I’ll post the link for more details on this at the bottom of the blog. Now, this was an extremely significant event in the past several years, and the fact that the story essentially broke on Twitter indicates the service is a lot more than simply “What are you doing?”
To me, Twitter could easily begin rivaling major media sources as everything posted in coming directly from a primary source for the most part. Instead of a reporter talking to someone, turning around and taking their quotes out of context and putting it out to readers and audience, you can get certain information straight from the horse’s mouth as it were. As a journalism graduate, you would think the possibility of eliminating some importance of media would distress me, however that is not the case. Social media sites like digg.com have been a huge hit on the internet in recent years as users become increasingly demanding in which news they get. Even with cable channels now being On Demand, and the invention of TiVo, everybody wants specific contend at specific times without all the bullshit. Twitter, for the most part, allows you to sift through a lot of bullshit and only read what you want to read. That is in stark contract to other social networking sites like Facebook.
Everybody loves Facebook. Everybody has Facebook. Everybody uses Facebook all the time. I, like most people, check Facebook daily and have the application on my iPhone. Where Facebook fails as a great social networking site is in interaction. To me, and to a lot of people I have conversed with on the subject, merely use Facebook to see the latest pictures from the club or bar the previous weekend. The main reason for this is that you already know everybody you have on your Facebook and there is nothing really to learn or gain from most of them. It seems cynical, but honestly how often do you talk to all 300 friends on Facebook about anything? Ever? Doubt it. The occassional wall post saying “Hey saw you at the bar this weekend,” is usually the extent of conversation. Now of course I’m generalizing here as many of you surely have meaningful social interactions, but I’m sure most can agree Facebook has become a lot more about pictures than anything else. Twitter on the other hand is almost purely word based. There is the ability to upload pictures through the website TwitPic, but that is a one-at-a-time thing and more for certain moments then adding 60 pictures to an album. As such, the interaction between Twitterers is almost solely in conversation and helps create dialogue about practically anything that Facebook doesn’t allow. Furthermore, there is a few people on Facebook, I won’t name names but you probably know who you are, that I really don’t have much of an interest in. Chances are if I don’t talk to you, ever, or see you, ever, or you don’t reply to any of my posts, then I couldn’t care less. Sorry, just the way it is. Sure many of you feel the same. On Twitter, I choose who i want to follow, and there is no request that needs approval and all that garbage. If people don’t follow me back, it doesn’t matter. I follow those who I am interested in, and care what they have to say. If i don’t want to follow them anymore, I don’t, and I don’t feel like I just ended a relationship. (I should mention following means I get their updates on my home page.) You can follow as many or as few people as you want.
Because of this, my home page isn’t full of shit about people that I don’t give a shit about. For ex example, right now on my main Facebook news feed there’s a dozen status updates and pictures I DON’T CARE ABOUT. Now on twitter , I wouldn’t have that problem. Sure I could delete people on Facebook or go through all those annoying filters, but I’d rather just not log in as much. On Twitter I’m getting information I care about, AND its only 140 characters so I can sift through pretty easily and quickly and my page isnt bogged down with 300 people adding 300 photos. This might just be a nuisance to me, but when it comes to social networking, I want information I care about from the people I care to listen to.
Furthering the Facebook-Twitter comparison, my Twitter page is MY content. On Facebook, I can be tagged in any old picture, and have any one of my friends write whatever they want on my wall. Yes I can untag, yes I can delete.. but say I don’t sign in for a couple days for whatever reason. I could be tagged in many photos that could be viewed by potential employers and the like and I would have no control over it. There is no approval feature that allows only certain pictures to be tagged in the first place. Whereas on Twitter, the only content that appears on my page is what I have typed. If I add a picture, I know what it is and I approve it. Ditto whatever I say. There can be no complaint about content on your page because it specifically what you typed. Even if somebody replies to one of my tweets, that appears on their page and anybody visiting mine will not see it. This type of user controlled content is far more practical for social networking because in the end, you’re showing yourself to the world, and I’m sure you would want to approve what the world sees.
My final topic is in regards to content. Twitter is an absolutely amazing way to gain knowledge on specific issues important to yourself. This part is hard to explain because of jargon, but I’ll do my best. Twitter has a Search and Trends function that allow users to streamline tweets from people, whether they’re following them or not, on specific topics. Websites such as TwitterFall (which is dubbed the Google of Twitter) allow you to type in a keyword, example: ‘iPhone’ and then it will then stream the most recent tweets of anybody that used the word iPhone in their tweet preceeded by a #. For example I tweet “the #iPhone is an amazing phone, download the Tweetie application” anybody that’s currently searching Trends for iPhone would see my tweet and be able to interact with me if they choose. I personally have browsed through trends and learned of about 5 different iPhone apps that I didn’t have any clue about that I now use all the time. Being able to search for any keywords allows you to search anything on Twitter and see what people think about it. This is such an awesome tool to have because you are getting real people with real opinions on real issues. Instead of looking at 1 or 2 websites where you will only get 1 or 2 opinions, you now have all kinds of views on any topic.
I’m sure there is much more I haven’t even learned yet, but I hope this explains a lot to those people who don’t know, or haven’t cared to know what Twitter is about. It sounds like propaganda, but honestly, this is the future of social networking and I want my friends to join in so I don’t have to keep following so many randoms 😉
Here’s a list of some useful links. Please don’t hesitate to sign up and join me. If you search for me my username is tylerconium