Its hard to easily understand Twitter without investing time with it. Twitter at its core is an information platform; twitter.com itself has little do to with what it can be or what it will become. Its essentially a decentralized communication system that is designed to pull in short messaging via many methods and allow the information to flow in just as flexible a manor. It can be communicated with via SMS, IM, RSS, web, or desktop application. In its simplest form it appears as a giant status feed, but its simplicity means that endless amounts of information will be pushed in and the power will come from pulling it out.
Things I have done with Twitter:
- By using Twitter as a routing system I was able to text message Noor in India without incurring any fees. Sure you can email but she spent much less time on a computer there than she did on the phone, so texting was key to us keeping in touch.
- By using Twitter I've participated in ad-hoc discussions with conference attendees around particular subjects at marketing conferences. Twitter made this possible even though people didn't know each other because we were all able to post messages, append them with hash tags (a name for short codes in tech prefixed with a # sign), and pull out feeds of any relevant posts via search or RSS. We even sometimes collaboratively take notes on presentations by using hash tags.
- By using Twitter I have looked up feedback and reviews on netbook computers for Dannie, restaurants for myself, and more.
- I've also had discussions with people I've never met about products, news stories, and more by searching the public feed and messaging people I know have had personal experiences with those things.
- I was able to follow live play-by-play of the 2008 baseball home run derby while we were all at ConeyIsland.
- I learned about a major California earthquake last year 25 minutes before CNN broke the story on the web by following an alert of fast rising keywords on the Twitter feed.
- I use Twitter to route messages to my blog, facebook, and other social locations all at once. Some of you may not feel the need to do that but I actively participate in many social web environments so scale is necessary.
- I use Twitter to pass content to work message boards again by using hash tags. I can also use this method to update my to-do list, save pictures and text to word documents for storage, and much more.
- I can learn about when the dessert truck or waffle truck move locations, when GMail is having service issues, when the NASA mars rover has a discovery, and more - all as soon as it happens.
- I get CNN breaking news alerts, tech news alerts, even new york restaurant review alerts all in one easy to digest stream however I want it.
- I can have discussions with entrepreneurs and marketing directors that I would never have access to.
- I watched the election debates on CurrentTV spliced with filtered feeds of people's reactions and input to the candidates as they spoke.