Twitter: A Beginner's Guide, Part 2
[This article is a continuation from Part 1 of A Beginner's Guide to Twitter]
** Why do people love Twitter? **
Twitter is the kind of tool that splits opinion right down the middle, and there are a great many people public declaring their love and hate for the service.
So what are the factors that have people like Tech blogger Robert Scoble - who at this point has 3233 people following his every message - so excited about Twitter?
One of the reasons that Twitter has seen such success is its ability to facilitate quick, easy micro-publishing to the world. For those busy people using various devices and gadgets in the average day of communications, Twitter offers a simple, efficient way to cut to the quick. John Blossom writes that:
Extending your online presence
Others go further yet, claiming that Twitter is not simply an efficient way to get the word out on the fly, but also an excellent resource for those looking to grow their online presence. Anyone that publishes to the web does so in the hope of attracting more than a handful of readers. Twitter, argues Thomas Hawk, is an excellent way of amplifying your online presence:
The ultimate status indicator
Another approach is simply that Twitter allows you to roll-into-one a whole range of communications based around 'what you're doing now'. Rather than having to change your status on your IM, make a call to your colleague or family, making a blog post or sending several one line emails, with Twitter you can let everyone know exactly what you're doing with a single 140 character message. David Chartier writes that:
''We have IM, email, and mobile phones to stay in touch with the world. When our status changes (and I mean 'status' as in 'whatever is going on'), it often involves any combination of setting a new IM status, calling someone to let them know what's going on, posting to a blog or emailing a co-worker to say you're stepping out.
Twitter, even in its infancy, has taken innovative strides to remove this tediousness from staying updated and connected with what is going on in the worlds of the people who matter to us.'' —David Chartier, "Why I Love Twitter"
** Why do people hate Twitter? **
Twitter isn't without its detractors, and some of them are very passionate about their distaste for the service. What is it that makes people hate Twitter?
Saying too much
One of the chief complaints leveled at Twitter is that it encourages people - through its ease of use and very function - to detail the mundane and frankly boring details of their lives. Karoli argues that this is out of a need to belong:
Keeping you awake at night
The always-on nature of Twitter is for some more than they are happy living with. Certainly, if you are going to get the best out of Twitter, especially on your mobile phone, it makes sense to learn the commands required to stop and start your incoming messages. Otherwise you are left with what could potentially become an intrusive rather than informative service, as detailed by Rachel Metz:
Low relevance threshold
The final complaint leveled at Twitter is that in incorporating group conversations there is a tendency for users to become trapped between other people's thoughts, none of which have any relevance to themselves. Again, this is really an issue of selective filtering, but it is clear to see how an unchecked Twitter account might play havoc with both your mobile phone battery and your brain:
** What tools are there to extend Twitter? **
The main strength of Twitter is its simplicity as a publishing platform. As such the feature-set available from the Twitter website is quite limited. Fortunately, a great many third-party solutions have cropped up to fill the gap, allowing you to extend the capabilities of Twitter, or to interact with it in new and interesting ways.
Love it or hate it, Twitter is a force to be reckoned with, and provides a great many opportunities beyond simply telling the world what you ate for breakfast. By making it easy for people to send out short (140 characters or less) messages to their personal webpage, friends and followers, and even the Twitter community at large, the service makes for a compelling way to get the word out fast.
Whereas blog posts and emails tend to be longer-winded affairs, Twitter posts are closer in form to the SMS messages you send from your mobile phone, and in fact it is possible to access Twitter in this very way, in addition to using the Twitter website, Instant Messaging or one of the growing number of desktop applications available.
This effects the overall nature of the content produced, and very often you will find people sharing information entirely different to that featured in their blog posts. As such, Twitter allows you to keep up-to-date on the very latest information - information that may not make it into the longer form of the blog or newsletter due to time constraints.
Twitter is an excellent micro-publishing platform that acts not as a replacement for blogging, emails and SMS, but rather as a complement to their functionality. By making publishing something possible in the space of a few seconds, the stress is firmly on creating social links, sharing key information, and releasing spontaneous thoughts and data into the world in the spur of the moment.
If you would like to learn even more about Twitter, you might want to check out the following links:
Also, in the July 15, 2007 issue of netConnect, Melissa Rethlefsen provides additional library-related information and links about Twitter and messaging tools.
Originally written by Michael Pick for Master New Media and originally published as: "Mobile And Instant Messaging Meets Social Networking: Twitter - A Beginner's Guide"
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.
This work is licensed under a  Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License