Isn’t it just like the Internet to spawn yet another trend without anyone ever expecting it? Microblogging is suddenly exploding out of a few simple lines of code the way SMS sat dormant in our mobile phones until someone looking for the calculator accidentally pressed the wrong button and discovered it. Microblogging is SMS 2.0. Texting on steroids. Musings gone global.
The current beacon of microblogging is Twitter www.twitter.com. What started as a sideline dabble by San Francisco start-up ‘Obvious’, has grown so fast that its error message when overloaded – the ‘Fail Whale’ – www.failwhale.com – has become a cult hero. Venture capitalists have been pouring tens of millions into Twitter, while the whale finds its fins and Obvious tries to work out the most obvious ways to convert ‘tweets’ into cash.
The simplicity and ubiquity of microblogging are its drawcards. You sign up in minutes, start twittering in 140 characters or less, and you’re away. Before too long you are recruiting a legion of followers, following legions more while the chit-chat starts to build to an almighty racket. Now it’s being seen as the best way for breaking news to spread, churches to herd their flocks, corporations to leverage their demographics and friends to hook up.
Microblogging is at home on the desktop, laptop, hand-held and phone, which is what makes it so hot. Trans-platform communications are barely viable yet: text is king. In Japan, where the whole population is glued to a tiny screen, Twitter is becoming a national sport.
A cursory glance at www.twitterholic.com will give you an idea of what is happening. Follow a few links, and discover a community of hyper-connected trend-setters.
Meanwhile, spin-off sites, services and applications are blossoming – as are the Twitter wannabes and candobetters. Twitterrific – www.iconfactory.com/software/twitterrific/ – and Twhirl – www.twhirl.org – enable easy reading and writing of your microblogs without visiting the site. Summise, www.summize.com, a microblogging search tool, was recently bought by Twitter in an attempt to attach more value to their service. www.snaptweet.com is a nifty tool to link your Flickr images to Twitter.
It’s so easy to imitate this stuff, code-wise, the clones are sprouting: www.identi.ca, www.jaiku.com (snapped up by Google), www.dodgeball.com (snapped up by Google) and the quirky Plurk – www.plurk.com – no doubt soon to be snapped up by Google! You might want to also check out www.pownce.com, www.tumblr.com and www.spoink.com.
Tweet this: I can’t wait til they release more top level domains, so this parade of dumb Website names will finally end!
You know you have a phenomenon on your hands when hundreds of words start getting invented.
TwitterBots: Command-line instructions, issued via Twitter to perform all kinds of actions
Dweet: A tweet sent while intoxicated
Fail Whale: The loveable whale that appears when Twitter is overloaded
Fakers: People who pretend to be celebrity Tweeters
Hashtags: Using “#” to embed metadata into your posts
Twaggle: A gaggle of Twitter followers
Tweet: A blog posting to Twitter
Twitterrhea: Sending way to many tweets
Twitticisms: Witty tweets
Twoops: An accidental private SMS sent to all your followers
Twebay: To offer something for sale to your followers
Go to twitter.pbwiki.com for more…