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Why Everyone’s Talking about Twitter

3 minute read
Anita Hamilton

If you ever fancied yourself a blogger but didn’t have the time or energy to post thoughtful or silly missives at regular intervals, a new service called Twitter could set your inner blogger free. While some people call it microblogging or moblogging, I like to think of Twitter simply as blogging for regular people.

Maybe you’re really busy. Maybe you don’t have much to say. Or maybe you’re just lazy. Not a problem. This free service works by letting you broadcast a group text message to your friends’ mobile phones from either your own phone, an instant message or an online form at twitter.com. All your notes are then stored and displayed on your personal profile page on the site, which includes links to your friends’ Twitter pages, a thumbnail picture of your choice, and a short bio. You can even send text updates directly to your MySpace page. Just remember to keep it short: posts are limited to 140 characters, and the topic is, invariably, “what are you doing?”

More often than not, it turns out, Twitter’s 100,000 members — twice as many as it had just a month ago, according to Twitter business development director Biz Stone — are simply killing time. Even Presidential hopeful John Edwards is on it, although he seems to be the only one thinking about more than lunch. As I type this, caroline is mulling over some Girl Scout cookies, ian_hocking is “Waiting for Jessica to arrive so we can eat!” and hlantz is “having a nice cup of Soft Starmint tea.” Scintillating.

The chatter about Twitter escalated into a virtual roar two weeks ago during the South by Southwest multimedia festival in Austin, Tex., when the barebones service owned by Blogger founder Evan Williams, 34, was named the best blogging tool and attendees used it to meet up at parties. Since then, the fawning attention to the seven-month-old service has come full-circle as reviewers have begun to realize how boring most people’s lives really are. (As if YouTube’s gallery of puppy and kitten videos hadn’t already driven that point home.) Nonetheless, Twitter has been the top term on blog search engine Technorati for the past two weeks.

Plenty of people would happily have Twitter muzzled, rather than endure the beeping alert for yet another new text message. But I’m betting that Twitter will get a lot noisier before netizens move on to the next new thing. Why? Because Twitter targets the same crowd that digs MySpace and, frankly, that site is getting stale. We cyberjunkies need a new thrill, and what better than a service that combines social networking, blogging and texting? Dozens of other companies are trying to do the same thing with services like VelvetPuffin and Google’s Dodgeball. But only Twitter has figured out how to make it easy.

I know, it’s totally silly and shallow, but that’s precisely why Twitter is on its way to becoming the next killer app. And if you don’t like it, well, in the words of one Twit from San Francisco, “I’m so sick to death of Twitter-haters. If you don’t like it, why waste your time writing, reading, or talking about it? Sheesh.”

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