Sunday, September 7, 2008

Twitter, Explained

When I've told people who aren't familiar with it how much I love Twitter, they usually look at me funny even after I explain to them what it is and how it works. Wikipedia defines it as "a "free social networking and micro-blogging service that allows its users to send updates (otherwise known as "tweets") which are text-based posts of up to 140 characters in length." They just look at me and shake their heads and say "What's the point? I don't get it".

I didn't get it either. I was on Twitter for months and only followed a few people until everything exploded and I began to follow others and others began to follow me.

There was an article in Friday's New York Times entitled "Brave New World of Digital Intimacy" which helps explain the appeal. The author begins with discussion of the development of Facebook and how the addition of a News Feed, allowing someone to access all the new information their friends had posted on one page, changed everything. At first people were upset and angry--they didn't want constant updates on all their friends and yet, when it was offered, they found it both intriguing and addictive. Why? It's called "ambient awareness".

It is, they (social scientists)say, very much like being physically near someone and picking up on his mood through the little things he does — body language, sighs, stray comments — out of the corner of your eye.

Oh, and how did I find out about this NY Times article. Why from a tweet, of course! It read

incessant online contact=“ambient awareness,” says NY Times Magazine article. like the phrase.

I responded

Thnx! Now when others are looking at me funny when I tell them I love Twitter, wondering "what is THAT!?", I can explain. :-)

I like the phrase too. And the idea. Now, please excuse me. I'm going to go send a few tweets.


Contessa Kris said...

I too get the blank stares, the 'why would you want to do something like that' like I'm some freak. I don't care. I love twitter. LOVE.

I wanted to stop in and say thanks for visiting my blog recently. Always love to meet new people. It would be lovely to have you back again. I'm throwing a birthday giveaway blog party all week and next week until my birthday on Oct. 6th! Come see.

hermione danger said...

I just signed up for a Twitter account but haven't really gotten started with it yet. Wanna trade info? Also, do you have any suggestions for must-have tweets?