Why I Love Twitter
Social networking websites are what make the Internet go ’round, or so it seems nowadays. There are hundreds of ways for people to keep in contact with their friends, share information with them on their life, share events and other important information, keep up with companies that you like, or if you are that company, keep in contact with the people who are your fans or clients. The hard part of all of it is choosing which ones you want to use, or that might be useful to you; or if you should just use all of them. Everyone has their own opinions on which sites are “better” than others, so let us jump into the foray ourselves.
One of the most popular, yet most highly ridiculed social networking websites, is Twitter. Twitter uses a unique system in order to convey information from person to person. First of all, there are no fancy profiles; it’s just your name, your picture, and a small biography on yourself. Secondly, and most importantly, all update that are made can only be 140 characters. Many people ask why that is, and the answer is simple; when Twitter was made, they wanted a quick and easy way of getting information from one person to the other directly via their cell phones. Text messages can have a total of 160 characters, so this allowed for a username and the Tweet, as each update is called, to be sent to them in a single text message.
The team behind Twitter realized, however, that it was being used for much more than just personal updates on what a person is doing. Twitter is also widely used to convey information, such as news stories, company updates, and much more. Due to this, Twitter changed the question that they ask when you update from “What are you doing?” to “What’s happening?”. Doing this shows that Twitter isn’t out to just have you update exactly what you are doing at all times, as it was previously misconstrued to be in the past, but rather as a form of communication to share what may be on your mind, or what is going on at the time that you have something you want to say about.
Of course, this brings on a lot of questions from a lot of people. Many people complain about the fact that 140 characters isn’t enough to properly update people on what’s going on, but let’s think about it. By limiting the amount of characters in your update, it forces you to really think about what you want to say, instead of just posting a long update that will lose peoples’ interest. It makes you keep your update concise and to the point, making it easier for those reading to know exactly what you are trying to say. Not only that, but it makes keeping up with a large group of people easier, as you are getting the meat of the story right away, without having to sift through the extraneous information that just clutters up the web.
The support for Twitter has grown exponentially as time has gone on. While anyone can access a mobile Twitter site provided by Twitter themselves, there are also hundreds of Twitter Applications, both for your computer and on specific phone devices, which allow you to have a more customized experience when using Twitter. One such application is called blu, and was made using the Microsoft .NET 3.0 platform. Using this application, Windows users are able to use a more visual atmosphere to keep in touch with the people who they follow, follow conversations between peoples’ replies to other tweets, and use most of the features that the website itself provides. Since Twitter limits you to 140 characters, URL shorteners have become much more popular on the Internet. Blu integrates TinyURL‘s services into it, making it so that any link that you post will automatically be shortened, giving you more room to explain what the link is about.
In addition to applications, which you can even find for your phone, there are many websites dedicated to Twitter sharing that have popped up. Some examples are Twitpic, which allows you to share pictures from your computer, phone or e-mail; TwitVid, which does the same thing as TwitPic except with video; and TwitDoc, which allows you to post full documents which can be shared with your follows through a web-based client. Using these, people and companies can share information with each other, or even share important current events which they happen to be capturing and witnessing at the time.
That being said, Twitter has also become the biggest source of news on the Internet, for the sole reason that it is the quickest way of getting information to potentially millions of people in the matter of moments. Many major news stories, including the plane which went down in the Hudson River in New York, were first known about by a Tweet sent from a passenger’s phone, which was soon followed by the first picture, taken from a man on the rescue ferry (source Tweet from Twitter). Many television news sites, including CNN, used this Tweet and this photo as their first response to this story, and from there, began coverage. Obviously, news sites are able to pick up on these important stories quickly, but with the help of Twitter, they can get an immediate grasp of the situation from the source directly.
Throughout all of this, there are still people who find no use for Twitter, which is completely understandable. Twitter is fully about the spread of communication and information. It’s main draw is it’s simplistic nature. If you are looking for something which has ways to waste your time, then Twitter probably is not the source for you. But when looking at the idea of “social networking”, Twitter fits the bill perfectly. If you ever do sign up for Twitter, start by looking for companies that you deal with day to day. Many companies now have Twitter accounts in order to share information with their customers and fans, which can sometimes contain discounts, or first information on new products. Then, look for people who Tweet about things that interest you. Twitter has hundreds of functions, it’s all up to what you are look for in it.