TylerTech: What am I doing? I’m twittering
If this column were a Twitter entry, it would probably be over by the end of this sentence.
OK, so I finally gave in to the hype and got a Twitter account, if only to see what all the fuss was about.
Yes, I know I’m two years late to the party. The site only recently began to hit the mainstream as a channel for information and what its users are doing now… and now… and now.
Twitter (twitter.com) is a microblogging site. Users can send text messages or use other applications to create new entries (“tweets”) that cannot be longer than 140 characters. Not words, characters. For those who need to say a lot, that’s why there’s good old Internet shorthand. In turn, friends or coworkers or fans can “follow” you or send short comments or messages about your blurbs.
Those out there who constantly update their Facebook status know the allure of the concept. Twitter operates on that principle, only it’s more global than Facebook. Users can even install a Facebook application to get Twitter to update their Facebook status. Some people, as I was working on this article, may have seen my status: “Tyler is twitterring” followed by the content.
Twitter can also be incredibly urgent. Recently, James Karl Buck, a graduate student from UC Berkeley, was in Egypt working on a project.
During some political turmoil, he and his interpreter got apprehended.
The authorities neglected to take Buck’s cell phone, giving him the opportunity to send a crucial message via Twitter: “ARRESTED.” The post got to his friends, family and university. Before long, Berkeley’s legal team had him free.
News organizations, political campaigns and local governments are also getting in on the act, using the service to relay crucial information.
CNN has started breaking some stories via Twitter, as typing in a brief bit for Twitter gets the breaking news in for the real story later on. Before Pennsylvania was called for Hillary Clinton on TV, they called it on Twitter.
The only thing that weirds me out is how addictive it is. While in the past I would update my Facebook status a few times a day tops, during Tigerfest alone I think I sent three separate messages. It was the sort of stuff, however, that I wouldn’t normally say in a Facebook status. Rather than where I was, I twittered what I thought of the music, or what was going on. All these messages can put a dent in a text plan. Fortunately, I have a generous cell phone plan (I think), but if your phone plan can’t handle the text message stress, it may be a better idea to stay only on the Web side of the service, and thus miss out on all the fun.
Overall, I think Twitter is one of those sites that four years ago people would be crazy to suggest. What good, after all, is a one-way messaging service? But now in the age of YouTube, Facebook, and shortening attention spans, maybe it isn’t so nuts after all.
So… What are you doing now?