13 May, 2010

Why Twitter is awesome...

If you don't "get" twitter...and many people don't...allow me, for a moment, to talk to you about why it's awesome...(and fyi - I didn't just jump on this bandwagon - I'm a veteran - my first (daft) tweets fluttered out into the (largely empty) ether in July 2007, before it was even a blip on most geek radars, let alone celebrity/marketing ones), so I feel qualified to speak (even if with just a tiny amount of authority) on the subject (ahem)... ;)

Firstly - don't assume that Twitter is how it first appears - "Bob is eating some pie (3 minutes ago)" - there *is* a certain amount of that (admittedly), but once you fiddle with the focus, you'll see it's just an echo from the big bang of Twitter's birth (when everyone was super-excited to be using Twitter, but no-one really knew quite what to do with it...or what it was destined to become)...

Second - It's a way to directly touch, and tap into the deepest personal thoughts, opinions and feelings of all those around the globe that participate...the startled crackle of excitement when I saw "Stephenfry is now following you on Twitter" was quite an experience (not sure if you'll get to feel exactly the same, as I started tweeting in the *very* early days, and celebrity tweeters are probably more spoiled with followers nowadays, but you never know)...! :)

Third - It's now officially **THE BEST SOURCE OF NEWS IN THE WORLD...EVER**...Not wishing to sound like a stuck record, but two days ago, waiting at the bus stop, Stephen Fry whispered in my ear that we now had a Tory prime minister - "LibDem/Tory Rule! All will now be well. Justice prosperity kindness happiness for all! Yay! What could be better? #heavyhandedirony"... ;)

Fourth - Twitter is a direct measurement of where the hearts and minds of the twitterverse are right now (related to what's going on), check out "Trending Topics" (that's not actually it, it's just a feed of them - you'll find the real thing on the right when you log on), it's an automatic thermometer of exactly what things everyone is getting all excited (or up in arms) about (and you can search it, or filter it by country)...stuck on a train on the DLR and want to know what's going on (or how to get out of it)? Search "DLR" (if it's not already a trending topic)!

Fifth - Twitter rights wrongs and looks after it's own...the guy who got prosecuted last week for tweeting his frustration that an airport he was stuck at would be blown sky high if it wasn't sorted out (it was closed by snow, so obviously he was joking - admittedly a joke both bad and stupid - but still a joke), Tweeters got to together and raised more than enough money to pay his fine (and maybe finance an appeal)...

Sixth - It's free...!

If I've inspired you to have a go (as I hope I have), there are only a couple of things you need to know to connect successfully with the vibrant throng-

Pick some cool people to follow, some of my favorites (among many others) are -

Professor Brian Cox (of "Wonders of the Solar System" recent fame)
Dave Gorman (of Googlewhack Adventure (etc.) fame)
Graham Lineham (wrote IT Crowd and Father Ted, ferocious internet freedom/rights protagonist)
David Mitchell (Peep Show)
Wil Wheaton (uber geek/actor)
Stephen Fry (uber geek/comedian/wise-man)
Warren Ellis (daddy-freak/comic book author)
Robert Llewellyn (Scrapheap Challenge/Red Dwarf)
Simon Pegg (actor/writer/dog owner)

- although yours will be your own, your twitter space filled with thoughts of those that amuse and stimulate you, not just your friends telling you what they are having for tea or that they can't find their socks...just beware of people pretending to be someone they are not (but you already knew that from your Internet 101 class, right)?

Finally two technical points - If you put @username (where "username" is someones (*gasp*) twitter user name) in the tweet it means it's flagged up for that person specifically (my telephone announces these tweets in almost exactly the same way as a text message), so if someone says for example "@finkangel I heartily agree with your sentiments", I'll know straight away...everyone else can see it too of course...and this is the same as hovering a tweet and hitting "Reply"..."Retweet" sends what someone else has says back to your followers (use if you strongly agree with something and that tweet becomes "hot" within a topic if lots of people feel the same)...

...and lastly, you will still see people putting #topic (where "topic" is whatever the subject of the tweet is) this is a good way to start, or join in with a trending topic, but they can pretty much cope without the # now, so if you tweet "#con-dem I'm not sure about this new government" it would be the same as just saying "a con-dem government doesn't seem likely to work" from a trending topic point of view (joining your thoughts to the cloud)...

Urm...that's about it...Have fun with "the SMS of the Internet" as it was once known, it's so much more now, and getting better every day... ;)

Psst - It's over here...and if you get on with it, and want to follow my little tweets, I'm over here...

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