This past week I had an article appear in the local paper trying to explain Twitter and why it’s a such a useful tool and how to get started using it. The premise was that I keep running in to resistance to Twitter even among technically adept and adventurous people. I do admit in the article that Twitter isn’t for everyone. But I find it far more useful in so many ways than Facebook, especially for staying on top of interesting news, meeting new people and discovering very cool resources.
I got some good responses from the article, mostly from people already on Twitter. And it’s clear when I crawl out from behind my computer and venture in to RL that people are reading the article. But I’m not sure it’s made much impact. I met one gentleman on the way to a play last night who mentioned he reads my articles and enjoyed the one on Twitter. But when I asked him if he uses Twitter he said, “What? No. God, no!” And we all laughed as if that was an imminently reasonable stance. But I didn’t have a chance to ask him “Why not?”
I was slow to catch on, myself. Like so many new toys, I was fast to sign up as soon as I heard about it way back in 2007. But it was over a year before I really started to explore it. And as the service has added features and the third party tools have improved the user experience, I have come to rely on it for so many things. I can go days without looking at or posting to Facebook. But Twitter has become a regular habit. Maybe I’m just a twit (comments welcome).
One aspect of Twitter I haven’t explored yet are chats. I’ve known about them for quite a while, but haven’t had much opportunity to participate. But I found this Google doc spreadsheet that lists over 150 chats on all kinds of topics. Something for everyone?
Finally, if you’re getting in to Twitter I highly advise using a third-party tool for discovering people, managing Twitter streams and getting the most out of the service. My favorite tool d’jour is HootSuite. It’s a rich application that can be run in a web browser, on your desktop, IPhone, Android and soon Blackberry. You can manage lists, searches, and multiple social media accounts all within one user friendly interface. And it’s free! (There is a pro IPhone version).