The PhoneBoy Blog

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The Best Way to Use Twitter

I seem to have joined a small, but rather active circle of people on Twitter, which for lack of a better description, is a kind of group chat over SMS, web, and IM. The basic idea is: you send in an update over SMS, web, or IM (AIM and Jabber-based services are supported). Friends who are “following” you receive this update over SMS, web, or IM. When your friends want to, they will send in their update. You can become friends of people without following them.

One thing that happens on Twitter frequently is that some people are friends with people you aren’t. They will send out an update in response to a friend you’re not a friend with. It may kick of another round of conversation, or an exploration of that friends “friends.” Suddenly, you might add them as a friend and start following them. Before you know it, you’ve got a lot of friends.

One of the more powerful things about Twitter is that you can send in updates over IM, SMS, and the web at any point in time. You can choose to receive updates over IM, SMS, web, and RSS–yes you can get your friend’s twitterings in an RSS feed. You are not tied to a single location or a single client, making moving between access and update methods simple. Of course, you’re not really “logged in” in the same way that an IM client logs into AIM, so you don’t exactly have “presence” information with Twitter like you do with AIM and the like.

I think with a little tweaking, Twitter could become a contender in the crowded IM space. They differentiate themselves by making their network more open on more platforms. They keep it relatively simple. It’s only text. It uses tools you already use. And it doesn’t try and do too much. A much smaller, nimbler application Twitter is.

Anyway, onto the meat of this article: how I use Twitter. I receive my updates via SMS on my mobile phone. However, given how many updates I’m starting receive on my phone, I was starting to get the “too much noise” feeling. Not to mention an astronomical increase in my SMS usage. I decided that “Direct Messages Only” was a better approach. The only thing: I miss out on instant updates. Fine, I don’t want to be distracted. But if I have a moment, I’d like to check in my peeps on Twitter and see what’s happening.

I tried loading the Twitter web page on my phone to check in, but it takes way too long to load. However, I recently remembered that my Nokia N Series phones (and my E Series phones) have a built-in RSS reader. I simply visited my “with friends” RSS feed URL on the Nokia phone and it automatically sucks it into the feed reader application. Any time I want, I can update that RSS feed and get the latest information.

With this, I now have the ability to talk to a large group of people anytime I want to over SMS. I can go about my day as normal during the times when I’m busy and check in when I’ve got a free moment, either from my phone or via the web. I only get interrupted with direct messages. I only push and pull information at my leisure. I’m not constantly having to quiet an incoming SMS.

Do you guys use Twitter? What do you think?

#Cybersecurity Evangelist, Podcaster, #noagenda Producer, Frequenter of shiny metal tubes, Expressor of personal opinions, and of course, a coffee achiever.