A phenomenon has swept across the internet. Twitter.
No, it’s not new, in fact it was developed in March 2006 according to Wikipedia. I personally started using it in March of 2007, after reading Kottke proclaim:
“Twitter is the first thing on the web that I’ve been excited about in ages. Like years. The last thing was probably Flickr.”
I used it consistently since first joining, updating at a steady rate of about 1 ‘tweet’ per day. I approached it with the parallel mindset of posting a blog entry or a photo to Flickr. All was well in my slow and steady Twitter world, until the end of September 2008. My Twitter updates skyrocketed, and my network expanded. View the graph below. (only goes back one year)
Twitter posts by month:
This is due to two primary factors: my iPhone 3G and the discovery of ‘jtug’ – Jakarta Twitter Users Group. This has radically changed my Twitter experience, and completely enhanced the usage of Twitter for me. The iPhone enables me to use Twitter anywhere, and the Twitterific application is generally a pleasure to use, both on the iPhone and the desktop based version.
The Jakarta Twitter Users Group is a congregation of primarily Indonesian users based mostly in Jakarta. They’re a wonderful, vibrant, and positive conglomeration of Twitter users from diverse backgrounds, who often post in English (but the Bahasa Indonesia usage is helping me to learn more!). As an expat living in Jakarta, I find it refreshing to meet many new Indonesians that I most likely would not have had the chance to get to know. I’ve been fortunate enough to meet up with many of them in ‘real life’ offline as well, opening up a new world of friendships that otherwise would never have sprouted.
I pulled some data from TweetStats to view a breakdown of my own Twitter usage.
Here are the visual results.
By hour of the day:
As you can see, generally I peak first thing in the morning, usually in reply to the messages sent overnight, or to those people I follow in the States, Europe, etc.
Around 3-4pm it picks up again, as I’m leaving work or arriving at home.
And finally around 9pm is the third peak of the day, generally after the gym and dinner in the couple of hours before I sleep.
- The first conversations of the day tend to be more tech based, news related, tips for working, and replies to overnight tweets.
- The afternoon conversations are often more casual, unwinding, reflections on the day, social tweets.
- The evening conversations seem to snowball; sometimes totally quiet, but other times, this is when some of the Jakarta users go crazy and begin Twittering like crazy. Some of the oddest and most entertaining chats happen in the evening.
By day of the week:
Having spent so much time online during the week, I tend to break away from the internet on weekends. Monday through Wednesday, as with many online services (and hits to my blog), tend to be higher on these days than later in the week.
And finally, what Twitter client I prefer to use:
The client I’ve traditionally used is Twitterific, on both the Mac as well as the iPhone. Twitterific remains one of my favorite clients for its simplicity and small size. However, I’ve dabbled with a few others, and most recently found TweetDeck to be a nice option if you’re using a second monitor, or have a large screen. On a laptop I think it requires too much screen space. However, when using a second monitor, it’s great for organizing contacts by group, replies, and direct messages.
Some of you are thinking, “How do you find the time?”. Well, first off, I work in front of a computer most of the day. Secondly, I actually have quite a few professional contacts and coworkers that use Twitter to bounce ideas, share links, and communicate quickly with. I often work with many applications open at once, and can quickly glance over at Twitter without losing focus on my current task.
Ironically, very few of my family members are on Twitter (but Novita is!), and somehow it seems odd to know what my contacts are eating, reading, watching but yet, have no idea what my own family is ___, ___, ___,. Is this wrong? Well, perhaps not, as email is still my preferred way to keep in touch with them as it allows for more introspection than 140 characters provides (Twitter’s maximum message length). But it would be great to see more of my friends/family/Flickr/Facebook contacts join Twitter. If you wish to follow me, my username is (surprisingly) ‘javajive‘.
Many people recommend following each and every person that follows you. I do not share this opinion. I’d much rather follow 100 witty, intellectual, interesting people that I can keep track of, than hundreds of people that simply fill my account with static.
If you’re just getting started, it may help to have a purpose, to have an idea of why you’re going to create this network, and what kind of contacts you’d like to follow. A great site that offers many interesting articles, tips, and resources regarding Twitter is TwiTip. Here’s an article in Wired about its exploding popularity. Monitter is an awesome site for real-time keyword searches (just try it!) and gives an example of the potential for future news and information in streaming real-time.
What does the future hold for Twitter? Is this a fad that will die out? Will it morph over time? Will it become a Friendster-ish decay?
Surely Twitter will change dramatically for better or worse. But more importantly it represents the power of simplicity. People have video chat, podcasts, instant messengers, tumblr, blogs, facebook, myspace, flickr, etc, etc, etc. And yet, with the advent of services like Twitter, or another example, the mini-games that you can pick up and play on the iPhone/Touch, or the approach to blogging as Posterous presents (just need to know how to use email), the people have spoken. They appreciate quick, direct, and simple tools in this perpetually advancing landscape of technology and complexity.