Twitter gets the buzz

I am hearing lots of buzz lately about Twitter, the web site that lets you create an account where you can post really brief answers to the question “what are you doing?” using IM, your phone, or the web. Others can read your updates and comment on them. Liz Lawley has a very thoughtful post called “Why Twitter Matters” in which she argues that its brilliance is to:

merge a number of interesting trends in social software usage–personal blogging, lightweight presence indicators, and IM status messages–into a fascinating blend of ephemerality and permanence, public and private.

The big “P” word in technology these days is “participatory.” But I’m increasingly convinced that a more important “P” word is “presence.” In a world where we’re seldom able to spend significant amounts of time with the people we care about (due not only to geographic dispersion, but also the realities of daily work and school commitments), having a mobile, lightweight method for both keeping people updated on what you’re doing and staying aware of what others are doing is powerful.

The most high profile twitterer these days is probably Democratic presidential contender, John Edwards, who can be found twittering away here (one assumes it is not really he entering that text). This week he’s told us where he is or where he’s on his way to and said his campaign is committed to being carbon neutral.

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There are some not-very-famous entertainers of various ilks on there as well, but it’s safe to say that so far it has not yet been discovered by the famous as a new MySpace through which to gain loyal followings or enhance the loyalty of those they’ve already won over.

I can see that Twitter is not for me for some of the reasons Lawley discusses as common criticisms (it’s so trivial! who needs another distraction! do I want people to know what I’m doing?), but I agree with her that it’s an intruiging development, and think it has more potential than blogging to mirror the kind of mundane and trivial everyday checking ins that we do with people we are closest to on a larger scale. For people who want other people to know what they are up to most of the time, this can really make that simple.

And I can imagine fans really getting off on reading their celeb’s twitter… especially fandom of the sort that’s all about crushes and oohing and aahing at their every move. It could be a way for celebrities to make their own Gawker Stalkers. Kevin Bacon could write “Just had lunch at DOJO with a writer type” and someone could comment “You were wearing a nice fitting olive tee and your skin looked great! You pretended not to notice the glances as everyone pretended not to care. The guy you were lunching with was a regular looking guy, definitely not as fabulous as you.”

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Comments (3) to “Twitter gets the buzz”

  1. What interests me is the people who life blog compared to the Life status people.

    This is i use it for. I just wish it aggregated across other networks. Also, it has become popular to use at conferences.

    M

  2. I’ve been twittering for barely a week and still haven’t totally formed my opinion of it, but I like how it’s so much more casual than a blog. I feel like every blog entry needs pizazz but a tweet is by nature not a very impressive thing, and that’s its beauty. Like so much else about the participatory web, it revises our notion of what is significant and makes us see that everything we do is potentially meaningful in some way. I find most other people’s “about me” entries on Facebook and MySpace utterly banal most of the time (fantastic! another person likes Garden State!) but when it’s you and your friends making and reading these things, it’s totally different.

  3. these posts and comments go much further toward articulating what is compelling about twitter than I’d managed myself, so thank you!

    speaking of celebrity twitterers, Janina Gavankar (currently part of the cast of The L Word) was a twitter early adopter. the quotidian voyeurism of this is certainly thrilling.