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Twitter was an interesting phenomenon last week – an amazing number of blog posts, news stories, and mashups. Curiosity got the best of me; I tried it myself – and I still don’t get what the attraction or the applicability is …

Instant Messaging for your Every Move

Simply put, Twitter lets you broadcast IMs to anyone who cares to listen. Since the messages are short, the content is often amazingly trite – like the typical IM exchange, a bit tough to get value out of unless you are
part of the conversation.

Twitter First Hand

Well, this was all too interesting to pass up, so I set up an account and joined. The web site is nice enough, with the relatively minimalist look / feel, and the level of customization (design, look/feel) just about right.

However, my excitement quickly abated – you can only select one IM service as your conduit to Twitter. I was hoping to send updates from my BlackBerry (via GoogleTalk) and from my desktop (via AIM), but it’s a no go – only one service at a time. The BlackBerry would be the platform of choice, my because I have it with me all the time – unlike my computer, which is too difficult to fire up just to enter a quick note.

The challenge with the BlackBerry is that the connection to the Internet is not always there, so my Twitter conversation isn’t very persistent. And when I “lose” the connection, it seems to take some form of magic for the connection to re-establish. (I note a recurring theme in posts around the web, however; Obvious (the host/owner of Twitter) is apparently having severe scalability problems, as the
popularity of this service has taken off.

And regardless of the platform, the posting process does not seem to be very timely – at least, not consistently. A few times, I’d make an entry and see it within minutes. That was a rare event, unfortunately – usually it takes anywhere from minutes to hours to finally show up.

What Others are Saying and Doing

Kottke has a nice post – through which I found Twitterholic, a site that rate’s the most popular Twitter users (or “twits”; how apropo). He also talks about the history and some applications.

Click for the original …

Twittervision is weirdly mesmerizing – shows messages appearing in real time, placed on a map of the world to indicate location.

TechCrunch has a comparison between Twitter and Dodgeball, two similar services, and gets into the location identifying aspects.

Karp has a good post comparing twitter to good ol’ blogging – it takes less brain work to post updates of 140 characters or less (but where’s the value?)

You can keep an eye on the headlines -check out the New York Times on Twitter – it’s like the scrolling marquee on Times Square.

The Wall Street Journal has a nice write-up, that gets to the applicability / practicality of such a service.

Cashmore has posted a brilliant summary of The Evolution of Blogging, featuring this picture that sums it up nicely …

So what’s the point?

On the one hand, I’m happy to join the bandwagon of folks saying this will wither away in 2007. Check out this list of applications for the business professional; it just sounds like a solution looking
for a problem. It just doesn’t seem practical to sit and watch a stream of consciousness from others; why not make your own thoughts? Blog rolls are hard enough to keep up with, and I think Twitter will just be a waste of time for most – better to actually get some work done!

On the other hand … O’Reilly has an interesting post, where he characterizes applications like Twitter as “communications multiplexers. The theme of being able to reroute communications, whether web, email, sms, IM, or voice, to the device of your choice, is a major one.”

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