I heard about Twitter a couple of months ago and have been experimenting with it ever since. There is something about it that I find quite fascinating. Twitter is a microblog service that basically allows you to broadcast a 140 character status either on line or using a cell phone text message.
Michael Hyatt writes a great introduction to Twitter here. The first time I heard about Twitter I thought it was for people with more time on their hands than I have but I have found a couple of great things it can do and today I discovered another.
I have very few friends on Twitter (less than five) but I am following more than a dozen fairly well known authors. I find it fascinating to read about how they work, write and think. Some of them have great little tweets that stick with you.
Twitter is the village commons that no longer exists. Back in the day people would pass one another on the way to and from home and would stop and shoot the breeze. Nothing too deep, just the simple, how’s it going kind of conversations. Nowadays nobody has time for that and we drive to and from work. You only talk to your spouse, coworkers and maybe a close friend. You don’t know what anybody is doing. Well my favourite part of Facebook is the status line and the simple conversations between people where you learn things like your friend’s newborn daughter is having trouble sleeping through the night. Julie has been great about letting me know what she sees on the ticker that I can help with or just talk to people about. She is the deaconess of Facebook ministry (but don’t tell anyone that.)
Twitter is in some ways just that part of Facebook that I really like without the invitations to join vampire fights, poking, people taking stupid pictures of themselves etc. There are lots of ways in which I now prefer Twitter; I just wish all my friends did too.
Anyway, something kind of spooky came up recently. A new contact of my made a comment about a poor experience at Home Depot and then a couple hours later Home Depot contacted him; “Saw your tweet. Is there anything I can do to help?” Out of Atlanta there is a team of IT people who watch blog entries and Tweets on Twitter to see what people are saying about their store. If you have a problem they try to help. On the one hand I think it’s neat. On the other hand it is a bit creepy.
Twitter offers a service to users that you can be notified if a phrase ever comes up on someone’s tweet. Home Depot, obviously, is looking at any mention of their store’s name. I guess I need to read the fine print on Twitter. Anything put up there is fair game. It can be scanned or read by anyone.
This is where the connective aspect of online community really has potential. I think there is a vast untapped potential with this kind of technology. I just have to wait for my church family to catch up. They are still just amazed with the online bulletin (a weekly email). You ain’t seen nothin’ yet!