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Monday, 16 February 2009 16:13

Twitter is for the chattering classes

I never thought I would waste the time of day on a social network but Twitter was just so damned easy to get up and running that I thought why the heck not. It's still too early to tell whether this online ecosystem really is a writer's dream as some journalists claim but the signs are promising.

Basically, as far as I can see Twitter is a bunch of people chattering in real time using SMS sized snippets of prose (tweets) about what they're doing, about what they like or dislike, about any subject under the sun at any point in time and recommending links to sites.

Twitter also enables users to search for chatter about any subject with the search results automatically updated in real time.

Users can choose which Twitterers they want to listen to (or follow) on a reglar basis. So what you end up with is a continually updated list of Twitter members that you follow and a continually updated list of Twitter members who follow you.

The things that are likely to appeal to many about Twitter are its simplicity and currency. It enables you to tune into conversations about subjects of interest in real time. It allows you to find out what your peers are talking about in the here and now. It's a collection of thoughts from a global community

For a journalist, blogger or writer looking to build an audience for their work or to find out what people are thinking about any particular subject the benefits are obvious. Some journalists have built lists of tens of thousands of followers.

Like many of the more popular social networks, the Twitter business model still hasn't been clearly defined. The business basically runs on the funds from its VC backers, who incidentally just pumped US$35 million into the company.

It has been suggested that Twitter's real value - perhaps its killer business application - is the ease with which it allows users to search for the most current opinions on topics of interest. The Twitter community has been likened to a giant focus group that could be exploited by business interests.

Twitter, despite reportedly having a phenomenal 55 million users, is still very much a work in progress. However, with that many users on board all chattering to each other about every topic under the sun it is quite understandable that, global recession or not, there are plenty of heavyweight financiers who are eager to see the work progress further.

As for me, I intend to treat my initiation into the Twitter community as a personal experiment. Try as I might, I simply can't stay involved Facebook, MySpace or StumbleUpon. I have tons of connections on LinkedIn but I've yet to figure out what to do with them. At this early stage, Twitter looks promising. Like the business itself, whether the promise will be fulfilled remains to be seen.

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Stan Beer

Stan Beer assists with Digital Advertising installation and monitoring of advert performance. With 35 plus years of experience working in IT and Australian technology media, Beer has published articles in most of the IT publications that have mattered, including the AFR, The Australian, SMH, The Age, as well as a multitude of trade publications. Any previous news story submissions should be director to editor@itwire.com and advertising enquires to andrew.matler@itwire.com

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