Every once in a while, I see something that is eminently cool that I don’t know exactly how I’d use at first glance. Twitter is just that sort of application. I liked it immediately, but it took a little pondering to figure out why it’s awesome.
You see, this service gives me a simple way to keep track of my friends. I subscribe to their lists, and they subscribe to mine. When I send a text message to a special number (40404), Twitter automatically broadcasts my message to everyone who’s subscribed to my Twitter feed. That sounds a little lame and annoying, I know. But let me give you a pair of real-world examples that show why it’s addictive.
’m ready to head out for a night on the town, but none of my pals knows exactly where we should go. So, we all head to our local watering holes. It’s dead-quiet in my neighborhood bar, but my pal (we’ll call him Barney) discovers pay dirt. Not only is there a great band playing in his favorite nighttime establishment, but he’s also managed to score a booth in an impossibly full bar. With one quick text message he lets all of us know where he is and that he can hold down the booth for only another 15 or 20 minutes before the black-leather-jacket crowd moves in on his patch of Naugahyde paradise. This is undoubtedly a good, if somewhat frivolous, use of technology.
But Twitter’s actually good for a lot more than that. Say you’re at a convention in a strange city. You join the Twitter group set up for the conference, and you’re instantly tapped in to a hardcore feed of frequently useful info from the Twitterati. There’s no need to search for a good breakfast joint or an interesting panel—all the other attendees are broadcasting their discoveries, in real time, using their cell phones. That’s useful and cool.
So, what are you waiting for? Go sign up for Twitter (and get your friends to sign up too—it’s better with friends).
Got your Twitter account set up? Good! I think there’s a better use for Twitter than telling my pals I’m getting a haircut. I’m going to use Twitter as a kind of anywhere worklog, posting my day-to-day work activities for all to see. I’d like to use Twitter to keep you guys tuned in to the Maximum PC beat 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If you’re interested, feel free to subscribe to my Twitter feed—it’s http://www.twitter.com/willsmith/.
And, if you think up exciting new ways to use Twitter (or any other nifty web app), let me know about them!