Why Twitter?

What’s up with Twitter? What’s it all about, really? The best description of it I’ve heard was a “microblog.” Basically, instead of writing an entire article, you’re coming up with a quick headline to talk about what’s going on in your life, or what’s on your mind. It’s based on text messages, which are limited to 160 characters per message, so Twitter messages are limited to 140 (to leave 20 characters of room for addressing information).

One of the main reasons Twitter has become as popular as it has is directly related to the fact that you can update your “status” from your cell phone with a quick text message. I use it for a variety of things: it’s connected to my Facebook account, so whenever I update my Twitter status, it’s reflected on my Facebook status. I use that as a springboard for discussion on Facebook by posting anything interesting that I’m up to, what’s on my mind at the moment, or even just a random quote.

I also use it to announce new posts on my blog (infrequent as they are), because I linked my blog to my Twitter account as well, so when I write a new post there, it automatically sends out a message on Twitter saying “New blog post: Title of post” with a link tacked to the end. Many of you reading this may well have found it because of that very function.

There’s kind of a stereotype about Twitter, that people use it to announce every mundane thing in their life (“having a sandwich,” “on the toilet,” etc), but really, almost no one that I follow on Twitter does that. Mostly I follow news outlets or advocacy groups (which post links to their stories like I do with my blog), I follow my friends, and I even follow a few celebrities that I find interesting. Brent Spiner, for example, is hilarious. He’s been using his Twitter account to write serial novels through several weeks of 140-character snippets, all focusing on ridiculously implausible things happening to him. The first one had him wake up in an alternate universe where Star Trek: Nemesis didn’t suck and he was framed by his neighbors for a murder, the last one had him pulled through a mirror into a world where everyone was him while one of them took his place in the real world, and the most recent involves his staff of servants turning on him and holding him to ransom over a copy of Munch’s “The Scream.”

Feel free to check out my Twitter stream. It’s at http://twitter.com/harlander

And I’d love to hear from anyone reading this. Those of you who use Twitter, how do you use it?

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