Why I use Twitter and why you should too

There’s an online techie forum I subscribe to, in which a conversation got started regarding Twitter.  They were discussing the relevance of Twitter versus ‘more popular’ services like Facebook.  I got a slight suspicion that maybe they simply had not been given a good reason why Twitter was a useful tool for today’s techie, and since I also remembered being in their shoes oh so many twitter-months ago, I decided to respond and see if I could shed some light on the subject.  Let me know if you find this useful as well.

I've heard it said that 'people who don't get Twitter aren't Following the right people'.  I think there may be some truth to that. Twitter certainly becomes more valuable if you’re Following interesting people.  There are certainly lots of folks out there in the Twitterverse saying anything that comes to their mind.  This includes, but is not limited to, details about personal errands they’re running, pictures of food they’re about to eat, or tweets representing a conversation they’re having with one or more other Tweeters.  But there are also lots of folks out there like myself who try to only tweet messages with a bit more substance – tweets that try to provide value

‘Value’ is obviously subjective, but in the context of techies, I think  you can understand what I mean.  Twitter has major value for me because the experts and thought leaders of the types of tech topics I'm interested in are all on Twitter. I don't follow them to find out what they had for lunch - I follow them because they share tech ideas, blog posts, interesting links, and even real-time thoughts while they're working.  So if you’re looking for Twitter value and want to follow topics with broad interest, I recommend you Follow those kinds of folks.

A point was raised against Twitter regarding the 140-character limit it imposes.  However, the 140-character limit is not only useful for SMS compatibility (which is good when I want to get real-time Twitter info like traffic alerts straight to my cell phone via txt msg), but it's also a good way to encourage people to deliver maximum information in an efficient package. Newspapers use it (short but direct headlines in order to make you read the whole article), and I even like how 12seconds.tv uses the concept - basically, we get bored after any more than 12 seconds of video, the same way we'd get bored if a Twitter message let you write a 1-page paragraph, or the way you're probably bored at this post that is already getting too long. :)

For me, Twitter is the new Google. But in real-time. I've gotten stuck on technical projects and looked for answers on Bing/Google (for an hour) and on Twitter (where someone responds in a couple of minutes). And has anyone used Twitter to follow on-the-ground eyewitnesses during the Haitian earthquake recovery? Or the riots in Iran? Or even to see what people are saying [right now] about that new blu-ray player you plan on buying?

Yes the amount of data can be overwhelming. But just like we've got search engines to filter bajillions of bytes of Internet data, we've got tools like TweetdeckMoTweets, and Twitter Lists to help filter info. Using these tools, I can get focused feeds of information on certain topics, without having to read about what people are having for lunch.

When thought about this way, I'd say Twitter should be as important to the techie as blogs are, cuz that's what it is - microblogging. It's also interesting to note Facebook and LinkedIn's efforts to incorporate twitter-concepts in their offering (the Facebook newsfeed concept is the same as twitter's). Tho each has it's place - Facebook is where your familiar friends are, where u share thoughts that go just to them. Twitter is where your thoughts go out to a bunch of strangers, but with that comes the opportunity for a larger dialogue.

What are some other good ways to highlight the value of Twitter?

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