I’ve been using Twitter for a little while now, it allows you to post short snippets of text that get circulated to people who subscribe to your Twitter identity. For example, I may post that I’m making a cup of tea, everyone who has subscribed to that will get that little bit of information.
So far, so good, but it has something that makes it a little special. It integrates very smoothly with your mobile phone via SMS. I can be walking down the street and the desire to post overcomes me, I can then simply send a text message to the Twitter service and it will be pushed out to my contact’s mobile phones.
At first glance it seems utterly worthless, the posts are limited to 146 characters which makes it hard to write anything of substance. It is promoted as “A global community of friends and strangers answering one simple question: What are you doing?” and this lends itself to posts about making a cup of tea, or about how you hate tinsel. I am no better for my last Twittering was “I think, Like DG, I shall make myself a nice cup of tea before tackling WordPress install.“. Hardly ‘War and Peace’.
However, this belies the beauty of it. Once you have added a few friends (and more and more people are signing up as this meme spreads), then the inflow of short messages become like a Zen cloud of how people are feeling. Sure, Alice may be getting grumpy, but Bob is gearing up for a fun night out. You instantly become more connected to your friends even though this is a mostly one way communication.
In a world where many of our friends are our ‘blogmates’, where we are more likely to email than phone and where physically meeting people is becoming more of a rarity, Twitter allows us to feel more connected. The desire to keep in touch with friends, and to let them keep in touch with you leads to regular posting, and the less ‘important’ the post, the more you feel you are being allowed into that poster’s life.
It does spark some questions on privacy, while adults who have grown to use technologies like this are perhaps better prepared to self-censor, I worry a little about what children may divulge without considering the consequences. I also think that it is only a matter of time before someone drunkenly lets slip some ‘indiscretion’. We may have learned to not blog drunk, but with the ease of posting from a mobile phone it will be so much easier to slip. While you may make a fool of yourself at the office Christmas party, with Twitter you could reach a global audience.
I’m wondering what use other people or companies may put it to. It would be ideal for the organising of ‘flash mobs’ and on a more serious note it is an easy way to update people on the weather, local traffic and news or even sports results.
What Twitter may have unleashed is an ‘Open Source’ SMS subscription service and I am intrigued to see where it leads.
I think that Twitter is a lovely, lightweight web-app that may find surprising uses in the future.
You can see my Twitter here.