1. I wish you used Twitter

    brian on 2007.09.03
    at 01:27 am


    It’s your friend Brian. Remember when we used know what each other was up to on a day-to-day basis? The good old days before we had jobs and lived in close proximity? Yes, life has lead us apart a little, as it does. Phone calls, email and even IMs dwindle unintentially. But, some geeks in San Francisco have made something that brings back a little of that day-to-day contact.

    I don’t want this to sound like an infomercial, but there’s this thing called Twitter, and its kinda wonderful. I’d love it if you signed up, and then you and I, and our common friends could all see what everyone else is up to. Its entirely free, and as simple as sending an instant message. 100s of 1000s are using it already, worldwide.

    What is Twitter?

    What is it? 
    Twitter is a community of friends and strangers from around the world sending updates about moments in their lives. Friends near or far can use Twitter to remain somewhat close while far away…

    Ok… so how does it work? You can send updates in three ways: send a text message from your mobile phone, type a message from the Twitter site, or instant message… (source: )

    Its a web service that asks you to simply type what you’re up to, in only 140 characters. Then the service sends your update (known as a “tweet”) to all your friends who you’ve let follow you on Twitter. Your tweet can be something profound or something random. Both are great!

    You can update and receive updates from the web site at, over an IM network (AIM, GTalk), over SMS (text message on your cell phone), and through other things like desktop widgets and plug ins on other websites, like Facebook.

    So, if you have a moment, sign up for Twitter. You won’t get spammed and its super easy to sign up and use. If you’re confused by anything I’ve talked about, email me and I’d be happy to entertain any questions, or send you a direct invite to Twitter. Here I am on Twitter: – my updates are public: anyone can see them and follow my updates. Many people choose to only let their friends follow.

    For the rest of this piece, I’m going to go a little more in depth on Twitter, especially on how to get the most out of it for the least effort.

    The very first thing to realize is that it may take a week or two to really get a lot out of Twitter, because you need to achieve critical mass. Stick with it! You probably need five friends or so to join up and post about three times a day to really get and enjoy Twitter immensely. So perhaps the first two things you should do are 1) commit to posting three times a day, 2) invite a bunch of your friends! You’re welcome to point them to this blog post if you need help explaining what Twitter is – its hard to explain, but easy to love!

    A couple of my friends have signed up but have either posted once, never, or posted a bunch for a little while, then dropped off. One “friend” on my list mostly “lurks” (listens to the conversation without contributing). All of these people have 7 or less people sending updates – and many of those friends might not update a lot. I don’t think any of these people didn’t like Twitter, but they have lives, and they likely didn’t find the easiest ways to use the service. Here’s some of the super easy ways to use Twitter…

    A great way to use Twitter is over instant messaging. You can set Twitter to IM you any or all of your friends updates as they happen. You can update your own status any time by sending your short update to the Twitter IM “bot.” You can turn on and turn off these updates by simply sending “On” and “Off” to the Twitter bot. You can get other instructions by sending “help.” If you use GMail, you have the little GTalk IM program in the side of the mail window – you can use this to send and receive super fast updates from anywhere you check your mail!

    If you’re a SMS (texting) fan, you can use Twitter this way too – just the same as with IMs, you can send updates to 40404 (Canada: 21212) and have any or all of your friend’s updates come to you, as they happen, over SMS. Again, you can turn on and turn off these updates by simply sending “On” and “Off” to that SMS number. (Standard texting rates apply)

    To start using IM and SMS, go to

    To choose whose updates you get where, go to:

    I use Twitter mostly through a sublime little application that sits on my desktop called Twitterrific (Mac-only, there are similar apps for other operating systems), which is also free. I can post updates through it (it tells me how many characters I have left, which is its big advantage over IM) and I tell it to retrieve my friends updates every 15 minutes, as to not be overly distracting.

    What am I getting out of Twitter?

    Ever since the Internet came into wide spread use, people have been decrying it for taking away human interaction. The Internet is no different than any technology that came before it when it comes to these allegations. But it’s the most powerful tool we’ve ever had for generating social interactions, and Twitter is a wonderful medium for regenerating social connections. I can’t tell you the number times a message that I read on Twitter has lead to me IMing, emailing or calling someone based on something they Twittered about, that I otherwise would have never heard about.

    So even though I can’t see you everyday, your friends and I are interested in knowing what you’re up to! Twitter about it!

    Posted in: Cool Info · Technology · Web


    Comments (2)

    1. jake said on 2007.09.03 at 02:33 pm

      One thing I thought I should mention is that you can enable/disable SMS tweets from individuals. Initially I got slammed with so many text messages that I went over my monthly allotment. But now I only receive updates from a select few people. Mostly this list includes close friends and the occasional Internet celebrity who does not update forty times a day.

    2. brian said on 2007.09.03 at 05:33 pm

      It's in there!

      A great point that I perhaps did not stress enough in the post:

      To choose whose updates you get where, go to:

      This means you can selectively choose whom to get updates from via SMS or IM if you don’t want everyone’s updates there, and then see everyone’s updates on the website or through a desktop-based Twitter app.

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