I'm all atwitter today with news of the most addictive Internet time and brain drain since YouTube.
Twitter. That's right. Twitter: "A global community of friends and strangers answering one simple question: "What are you doing?"
Like YouTube, the concept behind Twitter is so simple, yet so alluring: combine instant messaging, texting and blogging, create a network of users by offering the service for free, and sit back and watch your idea organically grow in real-time.
Twitters can send as many of these messages (or "tweets" as they're known in the Twitter world) as they want, to the computers and cellphones of the people who have signed up as their "friends" or "followers" on Twitter's website. And here's the beauty of it all: anyone can eavesdrop on these micro-conversations because all tweets are published on the site for the whole world to read.
The only "rule": keep your mini-blogs to 140 words - or about a sentence. And stick to answering the question "what are you doing."
For instance, as I'm writing this, Griftdrift from Atlanta tweets from the web saying "Goodnight. Back on the horse again tomorrow? Maybe." Shoyou in Yokahama is saying something in Japanese, which doesn't translate on my computer and comes out as question marks. Dous from The Phillippines says "Waiting for LJ to get up." Marston from Hawaii informs us that he just "woke up from frikkin' mosquitoes." Someone from New Guinea says "must drink coffee." Eltatan in Santiago tweets something in Spanish I can't translate. And Indiesaurus from New Mexico says "I want some sweet board shorts for summer."
And while all this connectivity seems so - well - disconnected - it actual seems to make the space between all of us seem smaller.
But don't take my word for it. Go to TwitterVision.com and watch it all happen on a Google map...which pans around showing you all the tweets that have been posted in the past minute or two. Or go to TwitterMap.com, a site Twitter users have set up to show you who in your area is twittering right now.
So who actually Twitters? Hundreds of thousands of people, according to Twitters San Francisco-based founders....a number that's been "doubling every three weeks" as co-creator Biz Stone recently told The Seattle Post Intelligencer. And while you may think Twitter is populated by young men with a lot of time on their hands, spend a few minutes on on TwitterVision, and you'll notice that the real pictures of users are as diverse as the global population itself.
Twitters's commercial, marketing and political possibilities haven't gone unnoticed. Barak Obama is a Twitter who boasts 2014 "friends" and 2634 "followers." Obama, or more likely a 20-something campaign aide, posts from the campaign trail on the web or from his cell phone.
John Edwards has 2648 "friends" and 2518 "followers," and doesn't seem to remember to tweet as often as Obama. While Obama posts are very political in nature ("Thinking the President's word is not the last word on Iraq") --- Edwards's tweets seem more like process updates ("Spoke at MoveOn rally in Portland last night. Heading to Arizona now.) and are far less frequent.
There are a growing number of celebrity Twitters including David Letterman ("It's been so hot today that Barry Bonds has tested positive for lemonade), and Stephen Colbert ("Remember kids! In order to maintain and untenable position, you have to be actively ignorant.")
The BBC and it's news bureaus BBC Persia and BBC India, along with some other news outlets are trying Twitter out to post quick breaking news headlines. You can read tons more about Twitter on PBS's MediaShift blog, which is absolutely fascinated with it.
Yes - at first read, this whole notion sounds absolutely insipid. Who really wants, or has time, to sit around online and watch what's popping into people heads.
Funny, isn't that similar to what we said two years and $1.65 billion ago about YouTube?
Does Twitter sound like something you might try? What do you think about the web's role as a social networking tool? Click below on "Comments" and give us an idea what you think about this subject.
The space between
the tears we cry
Is the laughter keeps us coming back for more...