Know what Shaq had for lunch yesterday? Turkey wrap. How do I know? I signed up for Twitter.
Even if you’re not a web geek or a teenage girl, the micro-social-networking website, Twitter, is hard to miss these days. Big media like the New York Times (they’ve got a Twitter account too) has covered the rise of “tweeting”– the popular slang for the 140-character-long messages posted through the site– more often than I can count. And besides your friends, celebrities from 50 Cent to Oprah to Ashton Kutcher post tweets. Even major businesses likes Starbucks, CNN and United Airlines have climbed on board and rock their own Twitter feeds.
Twitter’s rise is the classic internet start up Cinderella story. What began in 2006 as a side project for founders Jack Dorsey, Biz Stone and Evan Williams, has boomed into a pop-culture icon in just the last few months. Twitter was initially conceived as a quick way to keep in real-time touch with friends, but the three quickly realized their network of micro-messages had some serious uses. “When the wildfires broke out in San Diego in October of 2007, people turned to Twitter to report what was happening,” Evan Williams said at a recent TED Conference. “The L.A. Fire Department and Red Cross used it to dispense news and updates as well.”
Now you can hear about news as it happens, read live commentary from the NBA playoffs, check out job postings, and follow your roomate’s progress on that new beer pong table he’s been building in the alley– all thanks to Twitter.
Great, right? Well…maybe.
I have two minor reservations about Twitter. First, it’s one more username and password to remember (how many of those do most of us have?). And second, it’s chock full of people who say a lot but appear to have nothing meaningful to say. JamieAdams76: Do you really need to tell the world how you wish you had a bottle of Evian right about now? Dyeeta09: I’m sorry your feelings are hurt. I’d encourage you to see a therapist.
But part of the genius of Twitter is that you can choose whose updates you’d like to follow. Follow interesting people, and Twitter becomes a funnel of great information from all over the net. My current favorite Twitter user is Mark Hoppus, the bassist for Blink-182. I can keep up with the development of his next record as it happens– and that’s really cool. I’m also getting fresh job postings, news on issues I care about, and alerts about events happening in my neighborhood. And Shaq’s progress on that turkey wrap.
In short– you should get on Twitter. It’s worth the extra username and password. Besides: Facebook is so 2004.