Why you might try Twitter

Tony Hall / CC NC-SA

With the name fresh in your ears, you may now be scoffing at what you think to be one of the new internet fads of the last years. Twitter tends to get a rap as just another social network, maybe even without much of a point.

However, Twitter is probably a bit different than what you’ve used before. Here are a few reasons, then, not to give Twitter not only a chance, but a try.


Twitter is explicitly simple. 140 characters, plain links, no extra crap. It doesn’t try to be everything, but does a few things very well.  New features have grown from organic usage; for example, retweets and @name replies. But that’s user inspired. No Farmville then, no people sending you virtual hearts, cows, or ice cream cones, nothing. You follow someone or you don’t. Tweet, retweet, direct message. No more, no less.

Speed and ubiquity

Twitter is fast. Facebook and FriendFeed may have auto-updating feeds, but Twitter smashes them. The hundreds of apps, as well as just the web interface, get you new tweets very quickly (and it’s going to get faster). One person can post a message and hundreds or thousands of people will read it within seconds. On their mobile phones, web browsers, and iPads. Twitter is platform neutral—meaning it’s everywhere.


Certainly there are ways to make Twitter useless, like converting it into an unceremonious link dump to a blog or news site. But otherwise, it can be gold, because it has to be concise.

Connections are also much more free-form than previous platforms. Follow who you want. Unfollow people if they get noisy. Turn it off if you want for solitude.

And the other side is real time. Whether it’s knowing if Wikipedia is down or getting a restaurant recommendation, real time information flows through the public stream very quickly.


It may take a little time to get used to, but once I think the reward is great if it clicks for you. Try out some different ways to interface with Twitter, see what you like. You may be pleasantly surprised. If not, we1 bear you no ill will.

This is the second (first here) in a series of tech posts directed at laymen, non-geeks, etc. Basically a lot of my friends and family. Subscribe and enjoy.

  1. And of course, @robertson_n.
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