Twittering with glee!
But what does it mean to me?
Read on. You will see.
I’ve never written a rhyming haiku before, mostly because I like that it’s not required. I think I just got a little overboard in my giddiness, and it came out in rhyme. I’d apologize, but .. nah! :)
Anyways, I’m writing today because I’ve decided I can’t resist any longer: I just have to write about twitter, because I’ve recently gotten into microblogging in a big way. And I know it will only be more fun if more people join me in it!! But in order for me to convince people to join me, I need to explain what I’m trying to get them into.
Twitter in Brief(s?)
Twitter asks, “What are you doing?” and it gives you 140 characters in which to answer. It’s simple, it’s beautiful, and yes, it’s free.
You can post your messages (commonly called tweets) publically, or you can send them directly and privately to people (if you’re “following” each other). Post via the twitter webpage, by sending a text message, or by any of an array of third-party apps that run outside of your web browser (with whimsical names like twirl and twitterific), or inside it (like Twitterfox). So Twitter can really be used just about anywhere, which is … crazy? odd? silly? fun? or all of the above?
You can opt to receive some, none, or all direct messages as text messages on your cell phone. In fact, the 140-character limit was probably chosen to coincide with the limits of text messages, and so it’s no surprise that there is a great synergy between Twitter and cell phones. Or you can be alerted by email, instant messager, RSS feed, or you can collect a daily digest of tweets and post it on your blog or other online profile.
Twitter can be like a multi-faceted conversation between many people, or more like a bulletin board, or a place to vent about the world without having to direct it to anyone in particular. You can listen to what’s being said back, listen to friends’ or strangers’ random conversations or comments, or ignore the listening side of things altogether. It can be as integrated with or distanced from your life as you want, really. But because of the low commitment and high reward, I find it tempting to keep it close to me.
A very nice overview of Twitter comes from Common Craft’s “Plain English” series:
Twitter versus Facebook versus Chat/IM
There’s so much more to Twitter than just chatting with or listening to friends or strangers. This is important, because in all honesty, nobody really cares what John Q. Public had for lunch.
A big part of the “social networking”, “web 2.0″ buzz that’s been booming online is the idea of having a presence online, as opposed to just having content there. A quality internet presence is developed over time, and developing this presence is extremely useful for people whose livelihood is based on whether people go to them for information or advice. There are actually so many business and marketing applications, it’s really becoming quite a phenomenon, but there isn’t much I can say about it from experience — yet! ;)
On the social side of things, there’s two things I could compare Twitter to: instant messaging, and facebook. I find that Twitter gives me the things I like about both of them, without any of the annoying crap that makes me want to avoid both of them like the plague.
I must say I’ve been really disenchanted with instant messaging lately, because there are really so many other (lower maintenance) ways of being in touch with people. There are really very few times when a serious interactive conversation needs to take place, and for those, sure, chat is nice. There are also only a few people that I only “see” via chat, and it’s always good to “see” them when I do. But since I don’t log in often, upon logging in I have to be prepared to get inundated with those, “OMG hi how are you? long time no see, whatcha been up to?” messages. The thing is, they would know what I’ve been up to if they’ve been paying attention to my Twitter updates! :P
Facebook, on the other hand, is all about keeping in touch with people without having to do anything. My distant friends can be close to my heart, without my having to endure small talk or having to actually ask what’s going on in their lives, because I can just look at their profile page and see the latest and greatest. Then when I have a thought I want to share with a friend, or a great memory of the good ol’ days, I can just skip right to the point and say it on their wall or in a private message. But my favourite aspect of facebook is the status updates, for two reasons:
- It tends to get updated more often than profile details, so I can get a better feeling of what my friends’ lives are like. This concept has been referred to as “ambient intimacy” — isn’t that a beautiful phrase?!
- I can get a quick overview of what everyone’s been up to lately, all at once, from the “Friends -> Status Updates” page, and so it’s easier. And what’s easier, gets done more often than other things!
Interestingly enough, Facebook has recently added Chat to their repetoire, which will bridge the gap between these two concepts. I think it will be a great fit, because I’ve occasionally tossed a “hello” at a friend when noticing that they’re online, and Chat will be easier than doing this via the Wall… especially because even getting to someone’s Wall involves scrolling past all sorts of annoying “facebook apps” that I’ve probably ignored invitations to join — this is why I am tempted to avoid facebook like the plague some days!
Twitter can be like Chat too, though: send a direct message to someone, thus starting a conversation. The recipient can then reply whenever it happens to be a good time to reply, and if it happens to be a good time for both people, a dialog can start up. Or if there is a delay in the messages, it’s more like passing notes in between classes at school — ah, fond memories for me!
More excitingly, Twitter can be that “stream of consciousness” that lets people see “whatcha been up to” without you having to tell them… and vice versa. Even the mundanities of everyday life are interesting to people who care, and that’s a big part of why Twitter is such a success.
Making Twitter My Own
What can make or break a Twitter experience, though, is who you’re following. I’m sure it would be easy to get overwhelmed by someone who twitters dozens of pointless public messages a day. Just to exercise restraint, I try to stick to tweets that I put a bit of thought into.. but that’s just me. More on that in a sec, I need to give a bit of my twitter-history.
I actually started out on Twitter knowing nobody. I still don’t actually “know” any of the half-dozen people I am following, but I’ll send them messages occasionally. I’m mostly just posting comments to the Twitterverse as a whole, and displaying those comments in a sidebar on my blog and in facebook. But I’d love to actually be able to follow some people I know! (Come on! Join Twitter, and follow me!)
The reason I actually signed up in the first place was because Toodledo can receive Twitter messages and update my to do list automatically. It’s handy when on the go, and I use it a handful of times a week — I’m not really on the go all that often, but when I am, I find I’m usually in places too noisy to use Jott to update my Toodledo list.
Next, I found a way to twitter-update my facebook status, which was done via a facebook app called TwitterSync. This worked well, until I started updating my Twitter status way more often than necessary… teeheehee, oops!
Then I added a feed to the sidebar of this blog, so I could be constantly updating my status here too. Oh joy of joys, now this is microblogging! And I started posting more and more, despite not knowing if anyone would be reading them. I didn’t feel like I was talking to myself either — it was more like musing out loud and not caring who overheard. And I’m fine with that, even if it does make me weird! :)
Hook, line, and sinker
I fell for Twitter because
it supports haiku!
I’ve loved haiku since I first learned of it, back in elementary school, but I’ll save the whole story for another time. What’s important here is that Twitter’s 140 character length is more than enough room for a seventeen syllable haiku, with slashes delimiting the lines of five, seven, and five syllables each, plus a #haiku hashtag to help us haiku’ers keep tabs on the haiku going on out there.
Since I’ve discovered the joys of twittering haiku, 79/89 or 88.8% of my twitters have been haiku. Yes, I just counted, and I’m shocked too! That’s a lot of counted syllables (1343)! The Twitter Haiku Movement facebook group would be proud…. :)
Next plan: actually collecting my twittered haikus (and the rest of them I’ve written elsewhere) and posting them here in the blog. After all, if the blog is a collection of my thoughts, I should certainly collect those thoughts I’ve carefully formatted into 5-7-5 form, eh? :)