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 (, 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.

11 responses to “Twitter”

  1. Hey Rick, added you to my contacts on Twitter. I've been on it for a while, and it's an interesting experiment in communication. By the way, I burned my Twitter feed on FeedBurner and integrated it into my uni-feed. Fun stuf!

  2. For a better experience, why not use Netelligence ( You choose when you want to get your messages (rather than having them forced on you), and can use it to store all your personal information online that you would have on your cell phone, in case you lost it. You can set up groups, have a group diary and contacts, etc – a much better way to communicate with your friends!

  3. Chris -Netelligence seems to be solving a problem I don't perceive I have. I sync my phone with my PC regularly – so everything on the phone is backed up on my PC. And I'm not looking to Twitter as an SMS-only service; I see it as a group communication platform with multiple points of access: SMS, IM, http. So Netelligence seems like an entirely different application, geared to do something fundamentally different than Twitter.Or am I missing something?

  4. I'm only a very recent convert to Twitter, but I'm actually finding it genuinely useful in keeping tentative yet constant touch with the remote teams I work with – almost like being in the same office over hearing conversations.I also wrote today about other uses for Twitter that are springing up: Kirk & Fishdog

  5. […] you are reading this and you either have no idea what Twitter is or you dismiss it, then this post from Rick Klau might be helpful to you in reframing your views. These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web […]

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