TWITTERING LIKE IT'S GOING OUT OF STYLE

13 Jun 2007
00:00

Twitter

Yes, the self-professed "microblogging" site where you can do most of the stuff you can do on other blog and social networking sites - add friends, make comments, get notifications when friends post something, etc - but posts are limited to 140 characters.

After hearing enough hype over how it's either a genius app, a celebration of banality, or the death knell of culture by dumbing down media to short mundane jabberings of drunk teenagers, or whatever, I finally got around to trying it.

And God help me, I can't stop Twittering.

Granted, I try to give it a little style and creativity rather than posting things like "I'm at the supermarket buying canned vegetables". Sample post: "Why is God tormenting me w/ thunderstorms & Monchhichi kung fu TV at 3:00 in the morning‾" Okay, it's not Dostoyevsky, or even Grisham, but you see what I'm saying.

But from a user POV, it's essentially no different from posting an SMS or IM on a blog - and I can already do that on LiveJournal using Nokia's LifeBlog app. With pictures, even.

So what's the attraction‾

Speaking for myself, a lot of it is novelty value, but I also like the idea of being forced to filter my usually lengthy rants down to 140 characters. It's also a great place for one-liner observations that pop into my head - you know, those great lines or ideas that you forget by the time you're anywhere near a computer‾

Sure, most people wouldn't want to read them, including people who know me and like me. But no one wants to read every single blog on the planet, either, even if they could find the time. I don't see the point of having 3,000 "friends" Twittering to each other, but as an aggregation point to keep up with what's going on with a dozen friends overseas, it's pretty useful, even if most of it is stuff like "OMG I'm going downstairs for ice cream now!"

That said, it's admittedly difficult to imagine something like Twitter having all that much shelf life - at least in its present form. The problem isn't necessarily the business case, although I'm not sure even Twitter founder Evan Williams knows what it is. As a vehicle for encouraging people to use mobile phones and IM as blogging tools, Twitter must be helping to drive up SMS revenues and IM traffic at least a little bit. It might even be working too well with its notification system that SMSs you every time a friend Twitters (which is why I highly advise deactivating the phone notification tool).

The real question is how long the Twitterers will stick around. I can't say for sure if I'll still be using it this time next year, or even by this Christmas. It's entirely possible that Twitter is one of those Net fads that will last as long as those LOLCats macros flying around the InterTubes - and those wore out their welcome a few weeks back.

But why not‾ Half the fun of Web 2.0 (as long as you're not a Wall Street investor) is that it's constantly morphing into something else. People use, obsess, get bored and move on to the next amusement - or take it in directions you never expected.

In the meantime, keep on Twitterin'.

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