Monday, May 19, 2008

Business Week: Why Twitter Matters

I’ve been using Twitter for a little while now. I had been hearing about it through my favorite podcasts and the buzz in the blogosphere for a while now, but finally gave in to temptation a few weeks ago. At first I was skeptical, the concept being a way to communicate with friends and others within the scope of 140 characters. Pitched by its creators as a way to express the answer to the question, “What are you doing?” I thought to myself that the question was really, “Who needs yet another social networking tool?”

Turns out I was wrong. Twitter is addictive. I have a minuscule audience (30 or so followers) but already I feel like a superstar whose movements must be broadcast to my closest adoring fans. You can find me on Twitter at

Tweets are the little bite-sized pieces of data we push out on Twitter. Each mini-post is called a Tweet. My college at work said that she thought it was funny how tech people always name things with such cutesy name, immediately emasculating the whole experience.

Yet, it’s so much more than just little updates ala Facebook or MySpace moods. In my usual shortsightedness I did not see the benefits of such a simplistic idea. Besides pimping their latest blog or podcast posts—which I do regularly with a simple website that allows you to Tweet a link to your posts as they are put up—people are sharing important links and other tidbits. Of course in between is the noise of what people are doing everyday from catching colds, to what their dogs are doing to the ubiquitous diatribe on airline delays.

In a couple of cases I heard important stuff was done with this new technology from springing a guy from jail to reporting on earthquakes in China. If you didn’t know Barack Obama has one and he’s predictable the most popular guy on Twitter with the most followers right up there with technology media star Leo Laporte.

No wonder that by gaining popularity so fast, Twitter has faced some growing pains. Frequent outages or errors have plagued the site but I stand by it. I think that in the 14 months since it’s been out, Twitter has become an important aspect of any social networking plan, whether it’s pure communication or some Web 2.0 marketing scheme for your business—New York Times is among the giant media corporations that have adopted Twitter very nicely to Tweet news, even splitting the feeds among subjects like Science, Politics and Sports.

In a recent Business Week article Biz Stone, a co-founder of Twitter was quotes as saying that he believed that the website could grow to “become a communication utility… something people use every day."

Despite my initial misgivings I now couldn’t agree more. This thing has potential, especially when becomes even more portable (which is where it’s headed.)

Read the entire Business Week article here.

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