BitDepth 672 - March 24

Twitter is becoming its own network of information.
Tweet, tweet, twiddly tweet

This image posted by Janis Krums to TwitPic was the first photo of the Hudson River aircraft crash available to the public.

Twitter was one of those services that I just couldn't get a good grip on. For more than a year, I've included a Twitter badge on my blog and winced everytime I looked at it online, proudly announcing that my last update was an appalling number of weeks ago.
This is heresy in the world of Twitter, where posts and replies take place in minutes, not days, and a serious ding on my digital cred.
Twitter, if you haven't heard of it or tried it, is a social networking tool that strips the detail from blogging and reduces it to the web's version of text messaging, short bursts of information, limited to 140 characters (inclusive of punctuation and spacing).

Think of it as texting to a circle of friends, or in Twitterspeak, followers.
These messages, or tweets as they're called, are sent and received almost instantly, terse blips of conversation flitting across the digital aether. Your tweets are received by Twitterers who follow your conversations. You may opt not to follow theirs or even to "unfollow" them, but it's generally considered bad form not to trade "follows," except for corporate and PR Twitterers, who generally broadcast self-involved tweets with no regard to the trend of the conversation. These folks usually find themselves quickly unfollowed.

Art of the Tweet
Where blogs encourage long, involved conversations with oneself that rather temptingly drift in the direction of navel contemplation, tweets encourage focus and consideration, more so if your Twitter circle is practiced and eloquent with their allotment of characters.
My group of Twitter contributors is largely composed of folks who have been smarter, longer than I have been using this service, generously choosing to follow me even when my output was, shall we say, lethargic.

I've been immersed in the Twitterverse over the last couple of weeks after discovering The Cosmic Machine's Eventbox, a delightful software tool that aggregates Facebook updates with Twitter, Flickr and RSS feeds into one window.
The updates sometimes hiccup, but it's pretty cool to keep track of the goings on of my extended digital circle in one space.

Seeing the flow of this data over the last few days has brought home a clearer understanding the way that Twitter works in the hands of the practiced.
Along with the tweet threads about doubles and the agonies of the diaspora unable to lay hands on the fried breakfast treats are collections of links and references to web postings, news updates and breaking news that are quite unlike anything I've found anywhere else.

News blips from the Twitterverse
I found out about the death of Susan Tsvangirai on Twitter at least an hour before any local news channel broadcast it. News tweets were the primary source of information about the Mumbai attacks in the earliest hours of that atrocity and Janis Krums posted the first picture of the USAirways flight that crashed in the Hudson river to TwitPic, an image service that leverages Twitter from his iPhone. Increasingly, news organisations are beginning to understand the lubrication on information that Twitter has brought to the table.

In early March, SkyNews announced that it had assigned Ruth Barnett to be their "Twitter Correspondent," with, one presumes, the responsibility to scour tweets for news leads.
Facebook recently unveiled a redesign to its homepage that emphasises status and newsfeeds over postings, a tacit acknowledgement that its owners see the service becoming more of a teletype billboard than a scrapbook. 
Facebook users who are angriest about the changes are likely not to  be Twitter users, or they would see that the change is a direct response to the growing popularity of Twitter as a tool of social interaction on the web.

Visits to the Twitter website have grown by 55 percent month over month and that spike doesn't count the millions of users who choose to use dedicated software to manage their tweets. Much of that growth is the direct result of the value that's put into the system by its more savvy and capable users.
The art of the tweet isn't for everyone, but if you update your Facebook status daily, it's likely that you're ready for the streamed blips of information that Twitter delivers to your desktop.

BitDepth 686:
How to use Twitter
BitDepth 685:
Twitter 100 Days later
Blog Video:
Twitter on CNews
BitDepth + Notes from the Twitterverse
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