Paying homage to my colleague, Bob, by posting a reference I made to him and his thoughts on Twitter today. And by doing so, illustrate the effect this 2.0 element of 'social networking' is having to change our daily experiences. [Read bottom-up]
For those less familiar with Twitter, it was originally designed for people to announce a 'current state'. Indeed the single entry field interface prompts "What are you doing?". It was also uniquely designed to capitalize on mobile text messaging. Thus, a single entry string cannot be longer than 140 characters even if using the full-screen desktop interface. Many 'inline' interfaces have been created so individuals can watch what colleagues/friends around the world are doing/thinking throughout the day.
It's a phenomenon of communicating with critical 'peeps' ("I'll have my people call your people") via 'tweets'. It gained necessary critical mass by adoption at the annual phenomenon-unto-itself, South by Southwest (SXSW) in 2007 -- the Woodstock of techno-dweebs -- where it became the mechanism for a networked conversation. Where, this year it was leveraged as the means to report on a reporter.
For anyone you 'follow', their tweets are like an instant RSS feed into a reader (I've got one on my iGoogle desktop -- way more fun than the fullscreen version). For those of us easily distracted, we have to intentionally stay away from getting caught up in the activity (heaven forbid if I got these on my phone). Even when slammed for time, eventually I catch up and comment back on things shared by others. It's my own personal idea orgy.
Catching up is particularly hard to do when several people are at a conference. During SXSW the history queue goes to overflow quickly (you 'miss' notes as they roll off -- my queue is about 200 messages).
For those who prefer to manage who sees what they say, there's an option to approve followers.
The power of social networking channels like Twitter is being leveraged by those 'in the know' as a source of data (ala. research channel). Barack Obama's campaign is following over 18K voices. Shortly after casually mentioning a very specific product in a tweet, I was suddenly being followed by a cow. So how much can you tell about potential consumers based on their conversations?
Two critical voices (there are many) are David Armano (@armano) and Jeremiah Owyang (@jowyang). The @name format directs a message to an individual. @name puts your message in their queue (if they're following you) or puts it in a direct message folder (if they're not). @name messages can also be set up to be the only messages routed to your mobile device, and can be set on/off follower, by follower
David Armano suggests that Twitter has gained momentum because of the 2.0 elements which have been created all around it to offer a total Conversation Ecosystem. I maintain a collection of interesting elements of this ecosystem on del.icio.us. I picked up most of these from 'tweets' from my 'peeps'.
Writing about Twitter on Twitter is a phenomenon as well. But today there seems to be Twitterblogathon. Here I'm writing about it...Jeremiah Owyang suggests how to leverage Twitter as your own personal "social advisor" in real time, and an @armano peep drew attention to "Observations of a Twitter Newbie" by @marobella.
Pick a channel, any channel. Leveraged as a location device, as a mini-blog, as a 'man on the street' reporting device, paying due homage to Mr. Weinberger, et. al, it's still all about conversations.
And yes, there have been plenty of conversations around, "You know you're a twitterholic when...".