Over the last 2 weeks I have found myself asking that question more times than I can remember. When I first heard about microblogging—or Twitter, the primary service that started the microblogging movement—over a year ago I thought it was a stupid fad and wouldn’t last. I mean what value can possibly be passed along in 140 characters or less. 2 weeks ago I was convinced to try Twitter and I am hooked.
Microblogging is a new medium for communication. It is part instant message, but broadcasted, part forum, part blog. In short it takes a bunch from a lot of existing methods of communicatingbut it is a medium of it’s own. Microblogging at the heart is really one question: “What are you doing?”. While it would seem odd to email or IM your friends that you are sitting down to dinner, that is exactly what microblogging is about. It provides connections and is a great level playing field which everyone is accessible to everyone.
10 reasons I use twitter
- Quick. Writing a blog post takes a long time. This post is already pushing an hour, I can tweet (twitter in verb form) a good few hundred times in that span.
- Painless. Because tweeting only takes a few seconds, people actually do it, all the time, usually a few times a day.
- Insightful. It provides great insight and interaction with people who I admire and / or respect. I have learned quite a bit about developing a good startup culture by following@zappos.
- Real Time. You can see life unravel as it happens. The day I started writing this post the new iPhone was released. There were thousands of tweets long before anyone blogged about their experiences. Those tweets showed the joys and frustrations of the new iPhone. One twitterer documented his 9 hour ordeal waiting in line at the Manhattan Apple Store while in line, as it was happening.
- Popularity. There are people on Twitter who you want to connect with but haven’t yet been able to.
- Networking. On Twitter there aren’t any cold introductions. Because everything you post is visible and transparent, it is immediately apparent who you are, and you don’t need to spend time introducing yourself. It is a very good place to network and connect with new people.
- Transparency. It is very transparent and as a result organic. Because of this it is a very comfortable place to be.
- Self promotion. I think I am pretty smart about a few things. I twitter about those things and other’s see that I “get it”. What and how I tweet about things, the discussions and communication I have with others provides great insight to potential partners, employers, customers, investors etc into how I think about things and how I conduct myself.
- Power of many. No matter how smart I am about things someone is smarter, and a lot of them are on Twitter. Posting a question to Twitter usually results in many quick responses.
- It feeds perfectly into my ADD life.
I have mentioned Twitter heavily here, but there are over a dozen similar services. Here are some of the more popular ones:
- Twitter — The one that started it all. It still has the largest user base, despite frequent outages.
- Pownce — Digg founder, Kevin Rose‘s brainchild. Has more features than twitter, but none that matter.
- Jaiku — Google just purchased, so expect to be a player.
http://plurk.com – Focus on converstions, rather than broadcast messages.
Meta Microblogging Services
- Ping.fm — Ping.fm is in closed beta. Comment on this post if you want an invite. Posts to just about any service out there. Also you can post from almost anywhere: email, IM, SMSor Facebook.
- Socialthing! — Aggregates posts from everywhere. Deduplicates for when people use tools like Ping.fm to crosspost.
- TwitterFox — good Firefox extension.
- Twitterific — Mac only client many people swear by.
- Twhirl — Cross-platform Adobe Air based Twitter client, similar to Twitterrific. Can connect to multiple accounts, cross-post to Pownce and Jaiku, and post images to TwitPic.
Notable Twitterers (for you to follow)
- Me — Why else would you be reading this
- @bobthecow — Web 2.0 Wizard
- @zappos — CEO of Zappos.com
- @JasonCalacanis — Founder of Mahalo
- @MozillaFirefox — Updates about the world’s best browser
- @zefrank — Comedian and video blogger
- @biz — Biz Stone, founder of Twitter
- @apelad — Cartoonist, Laugh-Out-Loud Cats
- @diablocody — Oscar award winning screenwriter (Juno)
- @hodgman — John Hodgman (“I’m a PC”)
- @joeldehlin — CIO of the LDS Church
- @LinuxChic — Linux fangirl, podcaster, blogger, & sysadmin.