Twitter

OK, OK. I give up. I’m on Twitter. When I first heard about Twitter, I thought it was just a way to render SMS as useful as e-mail (which is to say, not very). But as with many tools that are now an indispensable part of my online life (RSS, Flickr, Youtube, Gmail, Facebook, Google Desktop, for starters), I’m finally coming around to see what all the fuss is about. Ross’s post helped clarify things for me; recognizing that Twitter isn’t solely an SMS thing, or solely an IM thing for that matter, helped.

What’s funny is that I can recall at least a half dozen different explanations from people I respect who all explain Twitter in fundamentally different ways. And that, I now see, is part of its strength. It’s different things to different people: for some, it’s a way to “microblog” (i.e., say even more mundane things about even more discrete things in their day). For others, a way to send text messages to a group. Others see it as a way to carry on a group conversation. And still others see it as a way to keep tabs on what their friends are up to.

For me, I think it will become an easy “status” service. In other words, via IM, web or phone, I can post a quick update message that will immediately show up on my blog. For anyone who’s using Twitter (I’m ‘rklau’ if you want to add me), my status updates will be pushed out to them however they’ve chosen to be notified. I know many people use their IM status message as a way of communicating status, but that’s always seemed wrong to me. It’s too passive: unless I actually look at my friend list, I won’t see your message. Facebook has a version of this – whenever you edit your “My status” section, your update is automatically added to your newsfeed, which your friends then see. Twitter takes that idea and opens it up: updates are easily made via whatever medium is convenient (twitter.com, instant message, SMS), and notifications are delivered in the same manners.

It sure is simple to get started. If you’re already using Twitter and want to keep in touch, add me. If you’ve used Twitter and have some tips, I’d love to hear them.