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Jonathan Jensen on Thursday – Twitter and why it’s relevant to me


Twitter cropped up in the news recently here in the UK with the announcement that it could no longer justify the cost of delivering Twitter messages by SMS outside the US, Canada & India. Whilst this was a useful feature, the announcement was hardly surprising given that it was costing Twitter up to $1,000 per user! If this helps to prolong the longevity of the Twitter business model then it’s probably good news. In any case a number of alternatives have now appeared in the guise of companies offering SMS delivery with a per message cost – although this could get expensive!

So what is Twitter all about and why is it relevant? Twitter falls into the social networking and micro blogging family. Twitter is all about simple communication using a maximum of 140 characters on a one to one or one to many basis. This can be as simple as letting people know what you’re doing at a point in time or imparting a useful piece of information or news, quite often tech related.

I use Twitter because it’s simple, concise, happens in real time and keeps me in touch with what’s happening elsewhere. It’s a great way to connect with other people and build relationships with people you wouldn’t ordinarily meet. I use it at my desk as well as when I’m out and about. Sometimes it’s a gap filler when travelling – quick look and see what others are up to; sometimes a dissemination mechanism for random thoughts, ideas & updates. It also complements Facebook by automatically updating your Facebook status, if you so choose.

My use of Twitter falls into a whole range of categories which is why I’m a big fan.

  • Direct messages for quick one to one contact
  • Reading breaking news alerts
  • Fun – reading and writing random comments that brighten up the day
  • Tech information – both from users and from tech companies themselves
  • Networking – building and developing my personal network of contacts
  • Blogging – both to pick up other blog comments and disseminate my own

The key features that make Twitter different to the myriad other micro social networking services out there are the API, reach and direct messaging. The Twitter API encourages developers to produce applications that enhance the Twitter experience in terms of contributing, reading, analysing and using Twitter messages. I’ll return to these in a future article. As one of the earliest micro blogging services, Twitter still has the edge in terms of users although others are catching up. As well as offering an alternative to instant messaging or email, direct messages allow public discussions to be taken offline if they cease to be relevant to a wider audience.

Any negatives? Twitter still seems to be a bit geek focussed. I’ve struggled to encourage close friends and family to sign up. They ‘get’ Facebook but Twitter is a step too far! I will be interested to see if Twitter remains the preserve of the geek community or broadens out into something the Normob community embrace. The essential simplicity of Twitter makes it an ideal service for Normobs but it is taking time to get the message out there.

You can follow me on Twitter at Sevendotzero.

My favourite explanation of Twitter is Twitter in Plain English on the CommonCraft Show.

Jonathan’s also at Sevendotzero.

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