..it hurts. Meet the new king of procrastination services.
If you haven’t checked it out before: Twitter is a service located somewhere in between blog, instant messaging and SMS/text messaging. You just go ahead and post very, very brief messages to your friends, liek what you’re doing right at that moment. It’s that simple.
Sounds stupid and pointless? Yes, it does indeed.
But maybe it’s not. There’s more to it, on a very human level. Basically, Twitter allows you to keep in touch with friends elsewhere on a very low, intuitive level. Would you bother writing an email to your friends saying “I’m packing my bags ’cause I’m leaving for a few days tomorrow”? Hardly. How about “Oh boy, I’m tired. Finishing that movie, then I’ll crash right away”? Never, I mean, never ever, right?
And yet, this kind of low-level information on your whereabouts – which of course mean nothing to people outside your social network – transport quite a bit of information and, mainly, context about your life. Friendships and other social relationships consist of much more than just the contents of our conversations, of course. One important aspect of social relationships is frequency – regular contacts help us know the other person, and also help us understand our mutual relationships.
And that’s where Twitter comes in: High-frequency, low-level communication.
While already very popular in the Valley and SF geek community (where mobile internet services are ubiquitous), I hardly know anybody in Germany using Twitter. (Maybe that’s good, maybe that’s bad, yeah, I hear you muttering about privacy issues. No doubt about it. But.) At least the mobile use will have to wait here anyway, since so far you can only text-message Twitter to a U.S. number, and virtually nobody uses mobile web services here yet. But to give you an idea about just how popular it’s over there: At SXSW 2007, Twitter just won the SXSW Web Award in the “Blog” category. Also, Leo Laporte is an avid (may I say addicted?) Twitterer – his and Amber Macarthur‘s podcast net@nite is where I first heard about Twitter, too.
It’s simple, it’s fun, it’s addictive. And it sure as hell keeps me from doing my work. (If you’re on Twitter, get in touch!)