Wednesday, July 6, 2022

How I use Twitter

June 1, 2009 by · 105 Comments 

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I have some friends that ask me what I use Twitter for… and some that say they don’t get it. I’m not a twitter expert by any stretch of the word, but I do use it often enough that I can speak about how I like using it.

Firstly, Twitter has become for me a filter for discovering new people, ideas, and things. I use the word filter because unless you learn how to filter twitter, it can seem like something out of Tank’s green code display in the Matrix. Filtering twitter, and filtering smartly is about not only choosing who you follow, but how you follow them.

Lets say you are interested in football, and the score of a particular game near you. There are probably hundreds of football games going on at this very moment. Twitterers are probably attending many of these games worldwide. If you wanted to follow every user that is reporting or posting about a football game, not only would you be overwhelmed, but you’d find the information useless. You need to ‘filter’ by either location, name, tag, or person. Once you determine that you want to see what games are near you, sorting becomes far more manageable. In order to do this, however, I find the using a twitter client such as Tweetie or Twinkle is more helpful than going through the main Twitter site.

I’ll give you another two examples of how I’ve used twitter in the past.

I’ve been at many conferences where people are twittering something they liked from a panel, or a quote from a speaker. Additionally, events are increasingly using hashtags #eventname to allow you to do better filtering. So, I’ll attend a conference, I’ll set up a filter on my Tweetie iPhone client for the #eventname and then I’ll see what people are talking about at the event. If there is an interesting talk that I’d like to attend I can hear about it from someone else. This also helps in discovering other interesting people that share you interests. Because Twitter is not about dating or something specific like that, generally people tend to be pretty general to their interests when they post, meaning that they will post stuff that is interesting to them, but not necessarily what the network dictates. This allows you to follow fellow cyclists if you like cycling and hear their stories, and if they friend you, you can even meet up for a club ride (true story).

Last year, I used twitter for a slightly less ‘fun’ experience, but still rather useful. I was coming back from work and was stuck in traffic. I was unfortunately in a hurry but could not see what was going on that was blocking the traffic so much. I guessed that it was a football game, but the traffic pattern and time was not usual for a game so I fired up Twitter and did a local search for stuff going on within a 2Km radius. Sure enough, people Twittered that there was a police shootout and that the roads were closed. Someone did a study somewhere that news happens on Twitter 9min before it is reported on the main news. I believe it. I’ve seen it.

Twitter, to some extent has replaced directories for me as well, since I can do a search for posts within my area for food or other services. I’ve also used Twitter as a human directory of sorts. When I was deciding to buy my netbook, I put out a question to Twitter on which of the three models people were happiest, and that confirmed my choice. Group decision making at its finest and most efficient.

I guess, in summary, I use Twitter, for many things, not limited to, but including:

1) Broadcasting ideas or thoughts for others to use in their searches

2) Researching things, topics, and places that interest me

3) Answers for questions I have

4) New friends that share common interests

5) Communication between recently met people

6) Local area discovery and news

If you use twitter differently or for other reasons, I’d like to hear about it. Post it in the comments.

As for twitter clients I use:

  • Tweetie and Twitterfon on my iPhone
  • Gravity on my Series 60 phone
  • Tweetdeck on my Ubuntu and WinXP/Win7 Install
  • Tweetie for Mac on my Macbook
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