Why Use Twitter?

From what I’ve seen, a great many people can’t see a use for Twitter. I understand, because Twitter is best when you’re looking for some specific things.

Think about an iPhone (or equivalent mobile device). Why would you want one of those instead of a laptop? It’s because you can take it with you, and it’s easy to do something quick with it between things.
Basically, it’s small and mobile. Manageable.

Twitter is the same way. Blog posts are long, and aren’t easy to follow when you’re out and about—especially on a mobile phone, which is where Twitter (Twttr, back then) was first envisioned for. You need something small and light, to fit with the mobile nature of your small and light phone.

As well, while you’re working, trying to keep up with blogs can really hinder your progress (believe me, I know). Keeping Twitter open on the side helps you keep in touch with what people are doing, minute-to-minute, while not taking so much overhead that you lose (much) productivity.

Twitter was adopted early and heavily by the professionals of the Open Web, because of what’s possible with it. I could send a message to a top CEO, and I’d likely get a reply back. I could engage many of my idols in conversation (if I had something to say; I hate to come across as an idiot).
Everything said on Twitter is completely public, which is half the magic. (There is a friends-only setting, but those are uncommon, and usually as a second, personal account beside someone’s public account.)

Facebook is a two-way process: you ask to be someone’s friend, and they might let you.
Twitter, on the other hand, has a follower/following model, where who you follow is your own choice. I can follow Obama, or Pepsi, or Bill Gates, if I wanted to. I would see what they’re saying. People can follow me if they find me interesting.
Because of this, I rarely have to worry about spam. I do check whoever is following me, and sometimes I’ll remove them, but they otherwise have no bearing on my experience.

So, if you’re interested in:
-Specific people
-How/What those people are doing
-Open communication
-A ‘marketplace’ kind of social atmosphere

Actually, that last one makes me think of something.
In Canada, if you smile to someone as you pass by them, they might smile back at you. In large gatherings, we find it easy to introduce ourselves to the complete strangers around us and share the experience. I hear this is being put to good use around the Olympic games.
Geeks, too, are similar. We bond together, and share ourselves through our technology (which is why geeks had really taken to Twitter a couple years ago, before the media hype).
In the states, I hear things are far less fun for normal people. I could imagine strangers are suspicious in public places, and you tend to ignore each-other in the streets. Twitter would hold far less appeal to you.
Just a theory.

Anyway, I hope that clears some stuff up. I was skeptical of Twitter (and, in fact, am skeptical of other services I’ve heard about since then), because I didn’t see a use for it in myself. After a while, though, I fell into that Open Web group and started really opening up my life. At the point where I was sharing my feelings to the public, Twitter made perfect sense.


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