What an amazing article from Tim O’Reilly on why Twitter is starting to find its place in the world and why it is so special. I’ve been using Twitter since August 22nd, 2007 when my first tweet echoed across the globe.
My first tweet in all its resounding epicness: I am working on homework
At that point Twitter was nothing more than answering the question so innocently posed on its user interface. “What are you doing?” And people did that. They so monotonously produced tweets which explained only what they were doing. But sometime over the last 6 months Twitter has become so much more. People are sharing ideas through the service and using it to display what they are focusing/thinking about.
Why has my blog been updated continuously less and less since that fateful first tweet in August 2007? Initially I used this site to share quick ideas which I found interesting or to let people know what I was thinking. Those two things are now primarily encompassed by Twitter. My personal blog will never be completely replaced but has now become just a supplement to Twitter, the primary tool for sharing my thoughts.
What I like about Twitter is that it updates my facebook status where people leave comments on it. This has provided a new link between my friends and my thoughts.
While I am not a Twitter evangelist, I have tried to get friends and family to adapt the service because of the reasons that this writeup from Mr. Tim O’Reilly summarizes so nicely (which I can never explain to people).
My two favorite reasons for using Twitter from the list,
- Twitter works like people do. If I’m interested in someone, I don’t have to ask their permission to follow them. I don’t have to ask if they will be my friend: that is something that evolves naturally over time. If you’re a public figure like I am, the metaphor of mutual “friending” is truly broken. I get tens of thousands of friend requests from people I don’t know. Accepting would make it impossible for me to use a social tool to keep in touch with my real friends. Friend groups don’t really help.Twitter’s brilliant social architecture means that anyone can follow me, and I can follow anyone else (unless they want to keep their updates private.) Gradually, through repeated contact, we become friends. @ replies that can only be seen by people followed by both parties to a conversation create a natural kind of social grouping, as well as social group extensibility, as I gradually get more and more visibility into new people that my friends already know. Meanwhile, truly private direct messages are also supported.I don’t know who first used the term “ambient intimacy” but it’s a great description of what begins to happen on Twitter. I know not just what people are thinking about or reading, but enough about what they are doing that our relationship deepens, just like real-world friendships. People who follow me on Twitter learn that I’m making jam or pies, or gardening or riding my bike or feeding the horses, things that I’d never (or rarely, since I’m doing it here) share on my blog. I know a lot more about many of my professional contacts that makes them more into friends. And in the case of my family, who keep their updates private and visible only to a limited group of real friends, we can keep in touch in small ways that mean a lot. I get special moments of my wife or daughters’ day that we might not have shared otherwise. It’s truly lovely.
- Twitter cooperates well with others. Rather than loading itself down with features, it lets others extend its reach. There are dozens of powerful third-party interface programs; there are hundreds of add-on sites and tools. Twitter even lets competitors (like FriendFeed or Facebook) slurp its content into their services. But instead of strengthening them, it seems to strengthen Twitter. It’s the new version of embrace and extend: inject and take over. (Scoble recently noticed that 60%+ of his friends’ updates on Facebook actually came from twitter. And as John Battelle noted in a recent tweet, “I noticed now that my FBook status is updated with Twitter, I get responses in Fbook, but would like to see them here.” It might seem like a strength for Facebook to allow Twitter to update its status feed, but not the other way around, but I think Facebook will one day realize that Twitter has taken them over….)
So if you are a friend or family member reading this, give twitter a try. I’d love to build that ambient intimacy of your daily happenings. I’ve met some really cool people through twitter because I feel strangely connected to their minds. I hope to build an even stronger connection with you all through the service 🙂