There’s a new web application that making all the rounds. It’s getting a lot of hype and some even say it’s “exploded”, meaning it’s the cool app that all the hip kids are using. Well, I’m not one of those kids, but after listening to a bunch of TWIT Podcasts where they go on and on about it, I figured I had to check it out. The application is called Twitter and I have to say, there a reason it’s become so popular – it’s a lot of fun.
I’ve heard a lot of people try and describe exactly what Twitter is and it’s a bit of a challenge. Simply put, Twitter is a web site where you post a short snippet about what you’re doing right now. That’s all there really is to it. So why would you use it?
Well, the best explanation I’ve heard came from Merlin Mann, of 43Folders fame, when he said something to the effect that Twitter is “a running extended away message.” Of course you can post just about anything, but that’s exactly how I use it, as an away message. I’m rarely in my IM any more, so with Twitter I can post where I’m at, or what I’m working on so that my friends / coworkers know what’s going on with me.
To see what I’m talking about, you can view my “Twitter”, or what ever you call it, at http://www.twitter.com/mashby
Of course, just having your updates isn’t all that compelling, so what’s all the fuss about? Well, you can add your friends to your Twitter list and see what they’re up to as well. That’s where the hook is. As your friends update what they’re doing, you get notified either via the web page, Instant Messenger (which isn’t operational right now), SMS, or a third party application.
Leaving the web page open works well, it updates with new postings by my friends and allows you to post quickly. The SMS feature is cool to post updates, but I disabled SMS notifications right away, otherwise my Sprint bill would have gone through the roof. I’d like to try the IM feature, but that feature is currently disabled due the sheer volume of new users. But being updated via IM and posting via IM sounds pretty cool.
What I’m using now is a standalone application called TwitterPost which works really well. However, I’m also a big fan of Quicksilver and I just stumbled onto this article which explains how to post to Twitter using QuickSilver. VERY cool.
Of course Merlin also described Twitter as “…God love it, that little bastard’s a _perfect interruption machine_.” which is true if you have a lot of friends, but right now I’ve only got three people on my list. In reading Kathy Sierra’s article on the blog Creating Passionate Users entitled The Asymptotic Twitter Curve, Twitter is definitely something to watch your usage patterns, but until it hits the “crack level”, I think I’ll keep checking TwitterVision to see what’s going on around the world. It may not be that useful, but it sure is fun to watch.
But what about you? Are you using Twitter? If so, post a comment, or add me as a friend. I’d like to see how many of my “readers” are using it. 🙂