June 15, 2008

Tweet it old school: A newswire for everyone

Important people with interesting, relevant things to say, seem like the type that would be given a highly sophisticated newswire service that was capable of updating new information from any location, at any time of day. Yet, what is important to you may mean nothing to me and so on and so forth. So who deserves a newswire?

How about everyone - and at no extra charge beyond regular communication fees.

Despite the ease of obtaining such a newswire, many people scoff at the idea-- mostly because they fail to believe a group of people would exist that would want to hear constant updates from their daily lives. Though, if asked, these same people would tell you they aren't uninteresting or boring (I'd presume). Some of these people will cite the excessive time it would take to maintain a constantly updating newswire-like service as reason enough not to bother with it. Whatever the excuse may be, these services are out there and giving those that use it a definitive advantage by knowing things before anyone else.

I'm speaking of a crop of social networking services that emphasis the concept of “micro communication” that is less active than a phone or instant messaging conversation but not as passive as e-mail and the traditional hand-written letter. Pownce, Plurk and Twitter are among those services transforming the way people communicate during a busy work day without sacrificing time or energy.

Twittering and why it's necessary

I've not written about twitter for this site but I really and truly should have by now. Ultimately I haven't had the time and/or mental capacity due to frequent use of the social service that is not restricted to just the web.

Twitter works like this:
Cram an entire message or communication into 140-characters (note: not words) and send out to the world for consumption by friends, colleagues, associates and other like-minded individuals that have the option to “follow” your messages through out the day. The format is perfect for text messaging and by adding a cell phone to an account, you can actually update from anywhere--making it a virtual newswire.

The 140-character limit may seem annoying, however, this journalist and many others view it as a challenge. (Essentially, you are writing all ledes or all memorable quotes for a collected edition of witty remarks, etc.)

As for the content of the messages, almost anything goes. Want to give updates on the PGA tour to friends stuck in business meetings all day? You can now do that. How about the writer in an empty office who enjoys the comfort of a staff to bounce ideas off of as they work? You've got a group of people all paying attention. Plain silliness? That's doable too.

Truthfully, the service is extremely versatile because of its imposed limitations. The only thing that is never acceptable is shameless self promotion through trickery and spam. bloggers who frequent the twitter service usually send links to their articles immediately after they post them. They usually post just once, perhaps twice. Often times Twitter can even be described as a human powered RSS feed, so spam gets dealt with immediately.

What you are left with is a group of people you find useful/interesting/relevant who update you through out the day. In my case it's sparked new relationships and opportunities as well.

So I'm not really sure why anyone would prefer not to bother themselves with using twitter or a similar service. If you're a writer (especially the non-fiction variety) check out twitter for a week and see if it hasn't proven invaluable on at least one occasion.


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