Nidonocuous (nidonocu) wrote,

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Twitter, or how I learned to stop worrying and love 140 characters

You hate Twitter, allow me to make that assumption.

If you don't hate Twitter then well, you already know what I'm about to say, so just read at your convenience.

But allow me to continue as though you do.

You don't see the point do you? Who wants to know about every little thing someone else is doing? Don't people have any worries about their privacy? Aren't they egomaniacs? How the hell can you say anything important in such a small post?

I'm hoping this post might answer these questions and even if you do not wish to join, then you will at least understand why everyone is using Twitter and why it's not as dumb as it sounds.

What Twitter is Not
Despite what you might of heard, Twitter is not about every little detail of your life.

In fact, anyone who does make tweets (posts) about every little aspect of their existence are considered boring and n00bish by most Twitter users (apparently called Tweeple, but I refuse to use that word in polite company).

Just because the post is small does not mean it shouldn't be interesting. Your friends and acquaintances have to read these things and they have their own lives, which they consider a lot more interesting than yours.

Twitter is also not a Social Networking site. For some reason, I often see FaceBook being referenced in close proximity to Twitter and the two couldn't be more different.

FaceBook is a megalithic website where you enter in tons of personal information, upload photos, buy and install web applications and games that apparently provide some little extra must have feature or other.
Then when you've done all that, you can have several hundred 'friends', few of which you care about and in the end, all that lovely data can be slurped up to advertisers thanks to a paper thin privacy policy.

Compared, Twitter is small, tiny.
You enter a username, an optional location (Sheffield, England or the Moon would all be valid) and a tiny profile (160 characters) of what ever you want. You can upload an icon and a background for your page if you want one.
After that well, you post anything you want, whenever the mood takes you, with as little personal information as you wish to give. You can even choose to make all your posts private to your friends.
Any other third party tools operate outside of Twitter and have no direct link to the server. It is a far more free form and open platform.

LiveJournal is more of a social network than Twitter.

What was Twitter designed to do

Allow a user to post small messages about what they are doing, no more than 140 characters in length, so that it supports text messaging and relaying messages to mobile phones.

What people Actually use it for

Whatever the heck they want.

There are no expectations about what you should use Twitter for, any more than there are for any other form of communication, which is what Twitter has become.

I've tried to think about listing examples of what people use it for but really, just look at what ever existing form of communication tools you use and you'll find the same things. If you talk about it somewhere else, people tweet about it too.

The difference is Twitter is not like any existing communication medium.
  • There are no expectations that you should reply like IM or e-mail to another's post, you don't have to say anything if you have nothing interesting to say.

  • It is less time dependant than IM or IRC, you can check back and see what others have been doing when you have the time.

  • At the same time, it is more instant than e-mail or blogging. You can ask your friends for a recommendation on something to buy as you enter a shop and get a reply within minutes, not hours.

  • It is more public than some mediums as you can reach many people instantly, and yet more personal, in that you can engage more directly with (mega or micro) celebrities and others where you were only a voice in the crowd before.

If nothing else, it helps you learn to get to the point. Make your statement, say your piece, see if anyone cares and if they do, discuss. If you think you can't say anything interesting in 140 characters, think again. Sometimes one word is enough.

There, I hope I haven't gone on too long. (If this is tl;dr for you then maybe you really should look in to Twitter. ;)

And more importantly, I hope I've helped people understand a little more about what this is about and why people like it.

Its not the end of privacy or a cry of 'pay attention to me!', its just a new way to talk.

Hello :)
Tags: twitter
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