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Epiphany: Twitter Puts the "There" There Back Into Social Networking

I've been Twittering for a couple of weeks now after resisting for months. It finally came to me... why Twitter (some call it micro-blogging as you're limited to 140 characters) has taken off and what need it fills.

Twittering puts the "here" back in the "there"

Cf Gertrude Stein's "there is no there there."

It fills a need we have not only for connecting with other like-minded folks, but for locating them - and ourselves - in an actual, earthly place and space.


Reading the Tweets of those you "follow" gives you tiny jolts of temporal/spatial awareness: exactly what are your colleagues or friends doing, and where are they? Now you can find out.

Not every Tweet, of course. Some of the updates are pointers to blog posts or other timely references.

Ultimately, the vague sense of "we're all online" and "in the cloud" together" is disconnecting and can make us feel more lonely. (Studies have shown this.) In contrast, the more tangible "It has finally stopped raining" (Kristen Munson aka Social Media Mom ) or "tea break" (Sun Zhifeng twittering from Shanghai) is comforting. Hey, we're all real people.


Above is an example of a Tweet this morning from newmediajim (aka Jim Long) who updates us all day on his doings as a freelance TV photojournalist. He's often at the White House or on Capitol Hill. 

It's Cherry Blossom week in Washington DC and apparently the downtown streets are jammed with tourists. Thanks for the update, Jim.

Useful Links

How I use Twitter, and you?

9,000 Twitter followers: what does that mean?

Alltop's list of Twitterati


del.icio.us digg.com technorati.com

Posted by Debbie Weil on April 1, 2008 in Buzz , Social media | Permalink


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Dave Huston

Excellent point. I find that a lot of Twitter users, like myself, work from home or coffee shops a lot. For us, Twitter become the office chatter that our work lives are currently lacking.

Hans-Joerg (ME)

Twitter for me is like a non-invasive form of Messaging. I can follow persons i adore or find interesting without disturbing them, i can stay connected to my friends and family via mobile, the messages wait for me, it's easier to twitter than to comment somewhere, and i don't expect a reply like in a Messenger... but i love each reply i get back of course. It's not replacing real social contacts. It even makes meeting each other easier at times. It's much more satisfying than waiting for Blog Comments. Together with tools like friendfeed.com i can reach and follow a lot of the ones i care about in every life situation. And the best thing is: I dont need to stay connected all the time. The tool waits for me until i find the time to check. That's what i like about twitter. And it gets people micro-blogging that normally wont blog. Will follow you later, Debbie. Good to be able to read you there as well.

Tim Wilson

Well put! Twitter has taught me how little it takes to make a personal connection with someone. And, even a tenuous personal connection can be a great entre to a deeper dialogue. It's a little like being at a party -- a 3-minute conversation makes a world of difference six months later when you cross paths with that person again.

And, to one of Dave's point, there are a lot of tools rolling out constantly to help people use the basic Twitter infrastructure in a way that benefits them (and the community). In my case, it's Twhirl + Tweetscan...currently. But that's subject to change.


Um ... no. Sorry. Love ya, Debbie, but not with you on this one. If you like Twitter and find it useful, then I think that's great. But it has only the most limited of possibilities as a form of business communication and, as I've written on my own blog, represents exactly what the people who hate social media think social media is. If you want a cool way to text your friends, then it's great. But the way some folks (not you) have lately been waxing poetic about the inherent profundity of 140-character "tweets" has been downright nauseating. Perhaps consultants and people who work from home are starved for idle chit-chat, but I'm starting to wonder what happened to real communication and conversation.

(End of rant. :)

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