Tuesday May 13, 2008

Twitter - Do You Get It?

Many years ago, my sister came home from school and shared a joke a friend had told her. We laughed. Then she told us what her friend said after he told the joke:

"Do you get it?! Do you get it?!

I don't get it."

More recently, a co-worker sent me a link to a question posted at YCombinator Hacker News:

Ask YC: Why should I care about Twitter?
Are many of our news.YC users also Twitter users? What do you find that you like about Twitter?

Reading the comments, I was reminded again that there are Two Kinds of People: Those who "get it" (in this case, Twitter) and those who don't. How can something so apparently simple be so difficult to understand?

Maybe because it's so simple.

Twitter is microblogging. Twitter is nanoblogging!

Twitter is quick updates, questions, answers. Twitter is "I've got a 2-hour layover at SFO. Anyone want to grab coffee?"

I remember, 5 years ago, trying to explain weblogs. Why would anyone write one? Who in their right mind would read one? Who cares what I'm doing or what you think... Nobody cares what you had for lunch.
Weblogs are meals; Twitter is canapes.

Twitter is writing practice. How much can you say in such a small space?

Not much over 10 years ago, the WWW was in the same position. What's it good for? Only a few people use it. It will never go anywhere. None of my friends are using it. (In 1998 I could not convince the company I worked for that a company web site was or would be valuable.)

Twitter is a 24-hour come-as-you-are blockparty. People come and go, talk and listen. Some of them already know each other, many of them don't.

Twitter is lifestreaming, in 140 characters chunks.

Today, newspapers are ubiquitous, but they weren't always. The newspaper didn't become popular until the early 19th century. I can imagine trying to explain the value of a newspaper to the largely illiterate populace of several hundred years ago. Why is this useful? What would I use it for?

Twitter is breaking news, up to the minute.

Twitter is What Is Happening Right Now.

Twitter is still very new; it was launched in March 2006 and we, the users and the developers, are still creating it. Those of us who "get" Twitter" often resort to analogy and example to answer the question "What is Twitter?"

Twitter is stories, vignettes, small slices of peoples' lives.

Twitter is community.

What Is Twitter?

Twitter is many things, depending who is using it. Here's what some of the people who use Twitter say:

Twitter is ... a "virtual water cooler" for a home-office worker. -- @danyork

Twitter is simply a chat room. I ask questions, or tell people information about what I’m looking at ... and it feels more manageable than instant messaging... What else is great about Twitter? You can ask questions to your community and quickly get a response back. I’ve done this several times. -- @jowyang

Twitter is a great way to post an idea because everyone can see it without opening a message. ... The emphasis is on the conversation. -- @erice

Twitter is fascinating, it's like the elephant and we're all blind men feeling our way around unaware that other people see it completely differently. -- @davewiner

Twitter's focus is strictly conversation and connecting folks. Other social sites dilute that focus. --@LionelatDell

Twitter is a singles bar for platonic friends, biz contacts: everyone's talking at once, investment is little, potential payoff huge -- @sarahgilbert

...you have to start using Twitter to figure out what it's all about, getting feet wet is only way -- @MackCollier

Twitter *is* the noosphere -- @ryankuder

When I first saw Twitter I thought it was the stupidest thing ever. Now, ..., I find 140 characters plenty of space to communicate about almost anything. You can scoff all you want, we're using the hell out of this tool here at [ReadWriteWeb] and it's treating us very well. Others are starting to do similar things and it will likely be downright common very soon. -- @marshallk

Read More

Try it... Follow me on Twitter.

Adding a new link:
How Twitter has changed my life (Whitney Hess, July 2008)

Twitter - Do You Get It? ( in category WebTech ) - posted at Tue, 13 May, 07:44 Pacific | «e»

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