May 10, 2011

Twitter: Why Should You Care?

When I mention Twitter to someone unfamiliar with it, it's not uncommon for that person to say something like, "Why do I care about the fact that Suzie is shopping for groceries or that Bill is sitting on his front porch watching cars go by?".  I don't care about those things either, but then again, those have not been my Twitter experience.

What It Is

If you are not familiar with it, Twitter is considered a "microblogging" service where individuals or organization.  In other words, it started as a way to update your friends with what is going on in 140 characters or less (much like Facebook status updates, except with a limit on how much you could type).  It has evolved into much, much more than that though, as many types of organizations started tweeting.

What It's Good For

Twitter is now my primary source for getting news and sports information.  Major news providers and aggregators (such as Fox News, ABC, Breaking News Online, Drudge Report, etc.) have a presence on Twitter and break stories as fast, if not faster on Twitter than other avenues.  In the Fall I use it for updates on players for Fantasy Football.  I follow iOS app developers to find out what is coming in future releases. I follow some pastor/authors and some Christian ministries.  I even follow my tweeting friends, though they typically tweet interesting things, not "I'm about to go eat a bag of chips."

The most amazing thing I've seen on Twitter recently is how it has been leveraged in the aftermath of the tornado outbreak here in Alabama.  People are using Twitter to post needs, such as bottled water, diapers, volunteers, etc.  Within a day, typically, the needs have been met by someone who saw the need posted on Twitter.  One local meteorologist, James Spann, because he has over 26,000 followers has devoted his Twitter account to "retweeting" needs and "haves" (where someone wishes to donate items or to volunteer).  It's truly amazing watching people help each other in such seemingly spontaneous ways.

What Does It Have to Do with My iOS Device?

So this is a blog about iPhones, iPads, and iPod Touches.  Why all this talk about Twitter?  Twitter is most useful when you are out and about on your iPhone or iPad because all the information you want pushed to you is right there without you traverse the web to get it.  It's also a good way to update those following you, should you need to.  (Many tweeted that they were OK after the recent tornado outbreak, letting friends and family know all at once.)

For the iPhone, you can use the mobile Twitter site but there are a number of good Twitter apps out there as well.  I use Echofon Pro myself because it syncs what I've already read with Echofon on my Mac.

Do you use Twitter? What do you use it for?

By the way, with my Practical iStuff Twitter account, I tweet every time I publish a post. (Actually I have that set up to happen automatically.)  Following @practicalistuff on Twitter is one of the best ways to know when a new post has been published. If you don't do Twitter now, here is how to get started.

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