Thursday, August 13, 2009

Make it Easy

There's alot of information out there in the world and I find that it's extremely difficult to deeply understand or explore a given topic when extraneous tangents are present to steer you away from the point. That's why I am introducing a new segment to my blog called, "Dumb Down". It's purpose is two-fold, by preparing the "dumb down" versions of complex issues I'll be learning what's really going on and also you, my reader, can benefit from the easy to follow, list-view, 101 style of the information.

Today's topic:

TWITTER dumbed down
Disregard this post if you are a twitter pro, or even better, feel free to add your 2 cents. But I must admit, I registered for the site when its popularity grew and since then I've tweeted a handful of times and still feel lost with the concept. So my goal today was to figure out some of the best uses for twitter, how to tweet effectively, and what those crazy @names mean. Enjoy.

So twitter "tweets" are text fashioned messages of max 140 characters that can be sent to "followers" or through open access. What I found interesting is that while twitter is the 3 fastest growing social network, it only has a 40% retention rate.... hmm... guess this how-to blog isn't too pointless after all! My guess is that people ask or "tweet" themselves, "what's the point?"

Some of the best uses for twitter that I have found include:
1. Getting feedback - twitpic a new haircut, or a car you are thinking about buying. Or post a link to an article you found intriguing. The mass of "followers" you have accumulated now have an opportunity to act as your council and supply advice or criticisms. I think alot of times people's arguments with twitter are, "why not just text your friends?" Well in this case, you can get opinions from people outside your direct network without mass-texting or not having contact info.

2. Give warning - if there's a huge traffic issue on the parkway and you know alot of people in your network take that route it could be very beneficial if they knew to take an alternate route. Of course this brings up the "text while driving" issue but let's just sweep that under the rug for now, shall we?

3. News tweets - this is probably the primary reason why I would enjoy "following" a twitter. It's nice to get up-to-the-minute reports on current events. News and celebrity twitters have become very popular as the give people a personal connection with the tweeter. Imagine the feeling that Anderson Cooper just personally texted you to tell you about the latest riot over the health care reform. Sexy.

4. Live twittering - recording your impressions of current art gallery exhibits, or concerts, or a sporting event can be fun and interesting to your followers. But eh, this one doesn't impress me too much.

Overall, I feel like, yea twitter is a cool idea. But my qualms are this: 1) I'm going to forget to tweet when something interesting happens which voids the purpose, and 2) I'm not gonna wanna read my friends dumb tweets so why would they want to read mine? Well regardless, I'm gonna give it a shot when I get my new blackberry ;-). CLICK HERE to follow me on twitter!

Lastly, what's up with these @name things? If I had to guess I would think its like a reference (think pointers in C++ code, all you nerds out there). But I don't know if I'm right. And do you have to type that in on your phone? Where even is the @ sign? Let's find out... I found this little helper on the WSJ blog:

Twitter Glossary
@: At reply. A public tweet directed at a fellow Twitterer, such as @Barack Obama, that shows up in their Twitter stream.
DM: Direct Message. A private message that appears in a Twitter inbox. You can only direct message people who follow you.
RT: Retweet. A tweet that you like so much that you are resending to your followers. Usually includes credit to original tweeter, such as RT @BarackObama, followed by the tweet.
Whale Icon: The iconic blue whale that pops up when Twitter is down. It appeared frequently in Twitter's first year and a half.
#: Hashtag. Used to designate a topic such as #SanDiegoFire so that people can easily search for tweets on a topic. (It is totally unnecessary, though, because a search on a keyword without the # returns the same results).
Nudge: A feature that lets you send a note to a Twitterer encouraging them to tweet more frequently. You can only nudge people who are tweeting from a mobile phone.

You can also use outside applications like Twitpic and TinyURL to add pictures and URLs, respectively, to your tweets.

Side notes to keep in mind:
- "followers" are not like facebook friends. It is not a two way street. Just because you wanna read their tweets doesn't mean that they are interested in yours.
- the best way to gain followers is to tweet more
- no one expects you to read all the tweets that roll in. Just enjoy it as good people watching.

Live long and twitter.

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