Is Twitter the next big thing?

Twitter is the simple to use microblog that could very well become the next YouTube. So what exactly is it?
By Russell Varner
November 21, 2008

“You’re no one in you’re not on Twitter, and if you’ve aren’t there already, you’ve missed it. If you haven’t been bookmarked, retwitted and blogged, you might as well not have existed.”

These are the words of Ben Walker from his famous ‘Twitter Song’ (The movie is also included below) and, though a little extreme, these words do speak some truth. Twitter seems to be the next big thing, what YouTube was a few years ago. And like when YouTube first came out, a lot of people are curious: what exactly is Twitter?

“With its requirement for people to squeeze their thoughts into 140 characters or less, Twitter is a perfect tool for a fast-paced, mobile society,” said Janna Anderson, director of a research project called Imagining the Internet. “It’s called ‘microblogging’ because some people use it just to inform their friends about what they are doing minute-by-minute, for instance writing things like, ‘I just voted for Obama, and now I’m headed over to Starbucks to get my free cup of Election Day coffee.’”

“Twitter users opt in to following the ‘tweets’ of the individuals or organizations from whom they want information – you follow the messages from the people you want to follow. This differs from texting on cell phones because it allows you to follow the information shared by interesting people you don’t even know and they are sometimes sharing extremely useful data.”

The easiest way to describe it is to compare to it to Facebook status. Twitter is a continuous status update that cannot exceed more than 140 characters (that includes spaces and punctuation marks).

So if that’s all Twitter is, why would it become so popular you may ask? Well, here’s a list of eight ways Twitter will change your life, written by Dan Tynan of PCWorld.com.

With more and more people getting their news from Twitter and more and more employers looking at Twitter for potential employees, it’s easy to see why Twitter could become so popular in the near future.

“My research for the Pew Internet Project indicates that mobile devices such as smartphones are going to become most people’s primary communications devices globally by 2020,” said Anderson. “Compressed information fits and it offers quick-hitting details we can apply to our lives. Most of the early adopters using Twitter to communicate today are writing on the road, from conferences, sales calls and other mobile situations in which they want to share tightly written information chunks. It first caught on at the South By Southwest media conference in Austin, Texas, just a couple of years ago. It has since been used by political campaigns, businesses and media organizations to quickly brief people on developing situations.”

So now comes the big question: How do you use it? Fortunately, it is very simple to use and update, even for those who may consider themselves to be ‘technologically impaired.’

First, go to twitter.com. Then, create an account and your first microblog and voila. You are officially a part of Twitter. Easy to use and simplistic.

Before you know it, they will be teaching Twitter along with Photoshop and Final Cut Pro to Kindergarteners in between their math and science courses.

It is hard to tell at this exact moment if this truly is where the future is going, if we will all be checking Twitter before we check CNN or BBC for all our latest news. But regardless, it is good to be prepared for all possibilities.

After all, how many people thought YouTube would just be a fad?

Ben Walker’s Twitter Song

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