I decided to write a very quick blog about how I use twitter because I've had quite a few people asking why I think Twitter is an interesting tool. So why not? I'm in need of material to write about anyway. Lately we've been experimenting with Twitter a lot more at work. If I were less mature, I would say Twitter is DA BOMB. But since I'm not, I won't 😉 In all seriousness, Twitter is a very pragmatic technology because it is simple and it's really up to you as to how to use it. Twitter really has only three very basic functions – public messages, direct (private) messages and search. Every other thing about Twitter is by convention.
The cool thing about it is that conventions were sometimes created by the community. The most common conventions are of course @[username] to identify the person you are responding to in a public message and d [username] to send direct messages. Recently #[title] has been used to identify topics.
Keeping in touch
Back in the day, when Twitter and SMS still worked in Canada, it was a good way to keep in touch with my friends and my mum. Sending a twitter update was a quick way to let people generally know that I'm okay and what ridiculous thing I'm up to. It's a good way to share a story quickly and really just let people know you're there. People will respond from time to time. For my mum whom I don't call that often, it's a way of letting her know that I'm still alive. Usually most people start this way. Unfortunately, most of my friends are that sociable on the Internet and find it a waste of time. Losing SMS capability on the other hand makes it harder for me to keep in touch with folks who aren't on the internet all the time.
Wading into a community
Since my primary interests are both mobile and web networking, finding a community to observe was relatively easy. I follow the likes of Mike Arrington, Robert Scoble and Guy Kawasaki for that. I have to say that some of the most interesting conversations actually happen in Canada by observing Mark Evans and Matthew Ingram. Mark Evans also writes Twitterati which is a specific Twitter blog. For work, I try to follow Canadian Realtor primarily but will follow any Realtor in general. I participate in some non-realty conversations but in general find them interesting and useful. It even proved beneficial on at least one instance. Toronto Twitterers tend to be quite friendly and the community here is quite vibrant.
I found out that Ted Rogers passed away and confirmed it through Twitter by searching for Ted Rogers. Every once in a while, I like to do a search on #Rogers, #Bell or #Telus just to see how the industry is doing. Unfortunately, no one seems to have anything positive to say about any of the big Telecom giants in Canada. The search function is quite interesting and very buried. In fact, you have to know to find it at http://search.twitter.com in order to use it. When you get there, it highlights the hot trending topics. Another means of research really is to just ask a question. I find it works best when you direct your question at someone though. For the most part, people tend to answer.
SMS blasting (Link Sharing)
I always think of Russell Peters in his Red, White and Brown DVD when I hear the term blasting. Quite hilarious. Sharing is a very big part of Twitter. Some of the most interesting things I've found out are from finding the information in Twitter. Usually I favourite them if I am reading them in transit so that I can view them again later. In order to reciprocate to the community, I usually try to share the things that I find interesting. My primary RSS consolidator is Newsgator and they have a clipping function. I then use Twitterfeed to integrate the clipping into Twitter. My link stats usually show around 10 to 11 clicks per link in general.
All in all, I think Twitter is an interesting tool. It's a good way to build community and learn new things.
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