One service that I just get seem to get enough of anymore is Twitter. I have it installed on my phone and it's the way I end up getting all of my news.
I often hear people say they don't understand how to use Twitter.
They think it's a bit silly to try to shoehorn their thoughts online into 140 characters or less, yet these same people have no problem communicating with their friends via text messaging. Go figure?
We've recently seen governments overthrown in Northern Africa and two of the big catalysts were Twitter and Facebook. If you think this was a victory for the internet, I suggest you think again. Most of the social networking that took place in those countries was done over mobile phones, often through text messaging. Notice I didn't say smart phones, but regular old cell phones. It was a victory for the power of the mobile phone. How powerful is that?
When I think of Social Networking, I think of Facebook. I don't feel Twitter fits that same model. They really are two separate experiences.
If anything, Twitter is a "content delivery" system. What do I mean by that? I think Twitter is a fantastic way to get news out and into the marketplace. It's a way to broadcast your message out to a large group of people.
Now I know you're sitting there saying great Mac, but how can I make Twitter work for me?
Let me tell you how I use Twitter. I don't have a group of people that are hanging on my every word (shockingly). Those that might be interested in what I have to say (friends and family) follow me on Facebook. Almost all of my interaction on Twitter involves taking in information; I rarely send anything out via Twitter, aside from my Facebook status updates.
I have a group of close to 70 people/companies that I "follow". Every time they post something (or Tweet as we call it in Twitterland) their tweet shows up in my time line (which is simply a list of the tweets from the people I'm following).
My big interests are sports, technology and news.
I follow the big news agencies (CNN, Reuters, ESPN) as well as my regional (Philly.com) and local newspapers (The Norristown Times Herald and Pottstown Mercury) to stay up to date with current events. As they tweet out their latest stories, I'm provided with a brief overview of their latest news article along with a link to the full story. Pretty cool stuff.
I am fanatical about soccer, specifically out of England, and as a result I have a combination of English papers and journalists whom I follow. I round it out with news specific to the teams that I support and cheer for. Each sports team I root for has their own Twitter account and as they have things to report, they tweet it.
Finally, there may be celebrities that you find interesting. One that I follow is Conan O'Brien, who seems to shoot out something funny on a daily basis. There are a ton of these celebrities online and Twitter gives you an inside look into their daily routines. I follow a couple of Liverpool FC and Green Bay Packer players.
The piece of the puzzle that pulls the whole thing together for me is an application called Tweetdeck. I have it installed on both my cell phone and my computer. This amazing application compiles all of this information into a list for me and allows me to read things as they happen. It remembers the point I left off and that is my starting point when I revisit. I'm able to scroll forward in time to watch the news as it is presented.
What sets Tweetdeck apart from some of the other Twitter clients is that it also incorporates my Facebook newsfeed into my stream. Not only can I keep up to date with the latest news, but I'm also able to follow and communicate back to those people I enjoy keeping up with on Facebook. How cool is that?
What's great about Twitter is that it allows me to customize the news and tailor it to my exact tastes. I'm able to keep up to date with all the things that are interesting to me. I don't have to keep up to date with things that I really don't care about.
What makes it fun is that I know for a fact that my wife would be bored to tears following my Twitter feed, but that's not my issue. It works perfectly for me. She can go ahead and create her own. Odds are her's wouldn't be of much interest to me.