Don’t dismiss Twitter!

Twitter isn’t the tedious waste of time and energy that Facebook is (in my view, anyway). Twitter is like a shared mini-blog in which every item posted is short and pithy and you decide for yourself which pieces posted by other people you choose to glance through, and if you want to, you can also control who reads your own. It’s a negligible commitment — you can Twitter, or Tweet, as much or as little as you like, and read as many or as few of other people’s Tweets (very short messages, never more than 140 characters long including spaces and punctuation) as you like, or none at all.  For examples — which you can read without signing up — have a look here, not that my own efforts are by any means the most entertaining or informative in all Twitterdom.

The always sensible and readable India Knight underwent a convincing conversion in yesterday’s Sunday Times:

I wrote sniffily about Twitter a few weeks ago, saying it was needy and megalomaniacal and plain weird for any sane person to spend the day posting random thoughts onto a public site. I’d like to eat my words. I was completely wrong: Twitter is amazing.

I’m relatively new to it, but it does three things brilliantly. One, it reminds you that people, complete strangers, are basically clever, funny and nice. This may seem a small thing but it’s an important and life-affirming one, especially with the amount of anonymous bile elsewhere online: Twitter puts you in a good mood.

Two, it’s an incredibly useful resource, which is why some people even use it as an alternative to Google; aside from the fact that Twitterers are everywhere and often break news as a result, you can ask a question – where to have dinner in Minsk, whether the baby’s rash is sinister, if an exhibition is worth seeing, or whatever else you like, from politics to engineering via making noodles and the finer points of construction – and know you’ll get succinct, informed replies.

Three, it makes you feel connected in a way that is hard to describe but that I’d miss terribly if Twitter died overnight. My hippieish streak finds it beautiful to have these little insights into other people’s lives. Two weeks ago I’d have called that interest prurience. But there’s a difference. So: total U-turn. Come and say hello. I’m @indiaknight.

So to read India Knight’s recent Tweets, just click

There’s a useful step-by-step guide to joining and using Twitter, recommended by India Knight, here — it’s actually much simpler than perhaps that makes it look. Signing up only takes a couple of minutes and you can provide as much or as little information about yourself as you like.  If you forget all about it for weeks, it doesn’t matter.  (But if you do join Twitter, do please point it at, or, in Twitterese, “@brianlb”,  and click ‘Follow’:  I’ll then get an automatic message to say that you’re following my Tweets, which will enable me in turn to follow yours.)

PS:  If you’re already a veteran Twitterer, please accept my apologies — and please “follow” me so that I can “follow” you.  And if you have some useful tips for getting the most and best out of Twitter, do post them in Comments below this.  Finally, don’t be put off by the twee in tweeting and twittering.  It’s pretty adult, in fact, depending of course on whose twee– er, messages you choose to read.

Brian (aka @brianlb)

1 Response

  1. 28 March, 2009

    […] More on Twitter for beginners here. […]