Some time ago I heard that there were two types of Twitter users: those who had used it, didn’t get it and had given up and those who used it, didn’t get it, but were still trying.
I’m now beginning to get it, I think, as I’ll describe. For those who haven’t come across Twitter, it is described in Wikipedia as “a free social networking and micro-blogging service that allows users to send “updates” (text-based posts, up to 140 characters long) via SMS, instant messaging, email, the Twitter website, or an application such as Twitterrific“.
Unlike conventional blogs (which can be used in isolation), I feel the important aspect of Twitter is its social aspect: you write a short summary (which is beginning to be referred to as a tweet) of what you’re doing or thinking, and that is integrated in a Web page with the tweets from the twitterers (the term which is being used to refer to Twitter users) you have chosen to follow.
I met some fellow twitters at the IWMW 2007 event (Paul Boag and Phil Wilson) and in the pub on a rainy night before the event started Paul and Phil described some of the advantages they have found in twittering what they are doing. Paul described how useful it was when working in a distributed organisation: it provides a virtual water-cooler, which enables people to say what they’re doing, their plans for the weekend, etc. Phil then described how it has enabled him to receive help and support from his fellow twitters: his tweet might say how frustrated he is getting an application installed, and a fellow twitters might read this and provide advice.
This discussion convinced me that I should make greater use of twitter myself, to see if I found any benefits. So after returning from IWMW 2007, then going to a conference at Cardiff I was about to head off to Newcastle, on the day after the floods had arrived. And a minute after writing this, Pete Johnston responded, warning me that it was not possible [added this in response to Pete’s comment which pointed out I’d omitted this] to go by train to Birmingham. Fortunately I was flying, but this demonstrated to me the potentially usefulness of Twitter.
One advantage, I feel, is that it is not as intrusive as email or instant messaging.
These thoughts came back to me as last night I was reading a post by Andy Powell on the eFoundations blog and I think respond to Andy’s post (and Pete Johnston’s confession) by paraphrasing Middle of the Road’s lyrics:
Last night I heard Andy Powell singing this song
Ooh wee chirpy chirpy tweep tweep
Chirpy chirpy tweet tweet
Are there any fellow twitterers reading this blog? Have you found any useful benefit?