Perhaps you’ve heard of it? It’s called Twitter. I admit it, I wasn’t a fan of Twitter at first. I signed on very early (back when Robert Scoble had less than a hundred followers) and didn’t think too much of it. Even as the service matured, it’s still wasn’t something I was willing to invest time in. After all, did I really have that much interest in following other people’s “life-casting” activities. I had three main objections, perhaps you had them as well.
First, it was another queue to check. With work email, personal email, and a full complement of RSS feeds flowing, why add one more thing that needs to be checked and answered? I had no desire to add to this. While it looked like I could add Twitter into the flow of RSS feeds I already read, I quickly realized I did not want to do that. Second, It was another place to post to. I already have a weblog for longer thoughts and Facebook for short posts that might be of interest to my social network. Why would I need yet anther place to post? Finally, I had already invested time and effort into services such Facebook and LinkedIn, did I really want (or have the time) to start adding creating yet another social network.
The answer was yes. Despite all these issues, I was definitely missing out on valuable information flow and needed to figure out a way to get this type of dialogue into my existing work/information flow. Twitter became much more than just idea lifecasting (although I confess to doing that sometimes as well.) For me it’s about a real-time conversation that allows interaction as things happen. Even better, there’s a whole slew of tools that have evolved that making interacting with Twitter easier than ever. Most platforms have a Twitter application (I personally like Twitterific on the iPhone, and Tweetie for Mac OS).
As someone who often needs to think in soundbites, I can tell you that saying something interesting in the 140 characters is clearly an art but it’s also a valuable way to tap into trends into real-time and get a sense of what’s really going on at any given moment, as things are happening. Even though it is another queue to check, for many folks it is worth the time and effort. For businesses, it’s become a powerful way to constantly push information out to customers and clients and over the events of the last week in Iran, it’s become a geo-political tool as well.
Most of all, it’s fun. While there’s been attempts at similar service (especially when Twitter’s reliability was so poor at times, it’s given birth to whole new buzzword, “fail whale”, a nod to the graphic displays when Twitter is overloaded). Perhaps one day there will be many Twitter like services but for now Twitter is where most of the action is at and the center of gravity still lies. (this includes Twitter books, Twitter conferences, Twitter consultants, Twitter ghost writers and probably Twitter – The Motion Picture and Twitter the Theme Park sometime in the near future)
The poet Robert Frost said, “why abandon a belief merely because it ceases to be correct?” In this case, I was wrong about Twitter and it’s potential value to me.
Feel free to follow me at twitter.com/gartenberg, ‘tweet you later.