Well, so much for principles. That all changed last week when I was presenting at the Portland CMG regional group. In a side conversation, Ed Borasky (one of the local FOSS literati, amongst other things), started extolling the virtues of Twitter to me and suggested that I "follow him" if I wanted to get a better idea of what it was about. So, when I got back home, I did.
But first, a word from our sponsor ...
Very quickly, however, I grokked it (more or less) and started digging around in what is otherwise a very intriguing world of its own. Here are some of my early impressions:
- Twitter just turned three years old. Still, no one really knows what it is. If they say they do, they're lyin' to ya.
- It has an API. This is what Ed B. and I were discussing.
- A twitter message ("tweet") is text, restricted to 140 chars; including URLs. Every character counts!
- Non-ASCII characters are allowed. I've even seen some Wingdings used.
- Tweets are obviously synergetic with SMS-style texting in the mobile world.
- Tweets do not allow embedded graphics e.g., small PNG or GIF (photos can be hyperlinked). This could be changed.
- Twitter is to Email as UDP (stateless) is TCP (stateful).
- Replies have to be fairly immediate or the meaning could be lost. There is no email-style "quote" context.
- Unlike MySpace, your home page is restricted in terms of dazzle effects. Amen to that!
- Where do all the old tweets go? They don't die and they don't fade away (just out of sight, our of mind). Retrieving old tweets is apparently a more complex issue than retrieving old emails. I don't understand why.
- There is a subtle simplicity to almost everything you do. This is both a strength and a weakness.
- There is some unconventional symbology (e.g., usage of '@' and '#') which takes a little getting used to.
- Twitter is like the photon; the "mediator" or "force carrier" that provides the interaction between blogs, email and web sites.