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The internet is full of websites to help you network, and keep in touch, and being a twenty-something year old, I'm just in the right generation to have tried them all. I've let people into MySpace, I've Facebooked everyone I know, I've blogged, I've uploaded to YouTube, I've chatted on many types of instant messenger, played game sites with a community and done things most people have probably never heard of.
And so when I heard of this up and coming new way to network on the internet, who was I to resist? So I clicked onto Twitter and signed up, and this is my view.
A Brief History Of Twitter
Twitter is relatively new on the scene on the social network scene on the internet. It started sometime in 2006 as a research and development project, and was initially used by employees of a company called Odeo, a podcasting group based in San Fransisco. Both Odeo and Twitter were later operate by a company called Obvious before later Twitter became it's own company Twitter Inc.
Since then the site has gained millions of users, and is one of the most popular networking sites on the internet. In 2008 a Japanese version was launched, on the basis they were the prominent users of the site. This version however is supported by the joy of adverts.
What Is Twitter?
Twitter is an amazingly simple concept of keeping people up to date on your life. You get exactly 140 characters to update people on your life. Just been shopping? Going out for a pint? Eating an egg? Then just type it into the box and so the whole world will know via your own page.
Another way to describe this is in terms of a Facebook feature, for all those who are more used to Facebooking than Twittering. Twitter is basically on the same lines of Facebook Statuses. A short box to give people a quick update on what you're doing.
Heading to the homepage of Twitter you will immediately see a nice big green button saying 'Get Started - Join!' as after all, who can resist a big green button? (Though a big red button is often more tempting...) You then simply type in your real name, your username (which will form the URL of your own area) a password, and your email address (which you can choose whether
to recieve updates or not.) You then type in a word to verify you're a human (or at least a really clever robot). You then click create account, and you're done! This is one of the easiest sign ups I've witnessed and is a huge credit to the site.
You can then try to find your friends via your email contacts, or invite users by email. You can add a little more info about yourself if you wish, such as a one line profile, and a location, though make sure you set your time zone to the right one! You can also upload a small picture for you to be identified by. And then... well that's it. You're done! Like I said, it's incredibly simple, which is a refreshing change on the internet nowadays.
A thing I do really like about the website is the clean cut and simply looking layout of the site. Everything is easy to find, and still remains easy to look at and uncluttered. It has simple pages, each with an obvious point, with nothing you don't need hanging about, looking ugly, or getting in the way of what you want to do on the site. There are no ads on the English version and the site loads quickly. This is a perfect lesson in how to build a functional but nice looking website, and some other sites need to take note. Indeed Facebook have and their new homepage now looks a bit Twitter-like...
There are of course a few other features beyond this, to help people keep up to date with each other.
If someone has a Twitter account of their own, they can 'follow' your updates. This is simply like adding someone as a friend, with your updates then appearing on the Twitter home page once they've signed in, and of course you can do this to follow anyone elses Twitterings.
You can also respond to other people's Twitters. Simply by typing and '@' symbol, and their username you can send a direct reply to another user, which will show up under the '@ Replies' section. You can also send people messages, outside of your Twitter feed, which they will receive under their direct message section.
One of the features I did like was the ability to update via text. You simply send a text to a number, and its updated. The cost is just that of a normal text. And this becomes even more useful if you, like me, have unlimited free texts! So you can update on the move, to keep in contact with a crowd in a simple matter. This is set up by entering your mobile number which it will save on the site. You then text a verification code from your phone to a given number and it's done. Once again very simple, and my favourite feature of the site. You then just text the number whenever you want and your Twitter will be updated.
If you're not happy with the basic theme you can also choose one of 12 themes, or you can add your own background image and change the colours yourself. This is again very simply and so you can easily customise your own page to reflect your personality, but without all the hard work of other sites.
If you only want people you choose to be able to see your updates there is also an option to make your updates private if you so choose.
After I had signed up to the site, I posted my first update and found my only friend I knew who had it and simply sat there thinking, 'Oh. Is that it?' and you may end up feeling the same. Like I said at the start I've used every type of site like this you can think of and have come up with a combination of sites that's perfect for all of my needs. But after setting this up I had no idea where this could possibly fit into someone's life.
Like I already said, it's like a Facebook status, but that's about it. Just a quick update about your life and that's it and so I think to myself 'Well why not just use Facebook?'. I do admire the simplicity to it. It has one aim and hasn't added a lot of thing that makes it too cluttered, but I still think it's perhaps too simple, and takes away the community of the whole thing as there's simply no easy way to keep up to date with a friend, and so if thats what you're looking for, then stay away. This is of course amplified by the fact that it's not know by everyone, so unless you have a group of people you know who use it, you may feel a little lonely when you only have two friends... which is perhaps my problem!
This site probably increases in functionality with the more friends you get. I will admit that. If I had a large group of friends who use it regularly it would become a great way to keep in contact with them all quickly, just like a text,
Pictures of twitter.com
Twitter Home Page
but to everyone I know. What I'm saying is that it is definitely not entirely useless, but I don't think it'll catch on quite as huge, like other, more useful sites.
It Must Have Some Use, Surely?
Okay, okay, so my initial impressions were negative, as it didn't immediately meet my needs, but it does have something that many people, including myself could find useful, and that is updates from websites, and people you'd otherwise have no chance of hearing from.
Basically, you can follow any Twitter feed you wish. You don't need to become someone's friend, and they don't need to follow you. You can get their updates if you want to. And this is useful as there are some websites which have official twitter feeds, so you can receive updates about their site in one easy place. While obviously not all sites are on there, there are twitters for various sites, such as news websites, such as breaking BBC headlines, or just your favourites. See if your favourite website has a Twitter feed to get latest updates from.
Apart from websites there are also official feeds from celebrities, or similar. While some, such as the Coldplay twitter page, are simply official updates such as tour dates and news about the band, there are others which are written by celebrities themselves. One of the reasons you may have already heard of the site, is via Stephen Fry, the amazing British... well everything really. He has championed new technology and has embraced Twitter, and frequently updates his feed (including once while stuck in a lift).
If I end up using the site regularly it will be for reasons more along these lines. I don't think it will become as popular and widely used as facebook so for me I don't think I'll have enough friends using it to use it that way, but it definitely has potential for websites and celebrity updates.
The web address is of course www.twitter.com
I may have sounded very critical in this review, but hey, it's just one person's opinion. This site may be what you've been looking for all your life, but this really isn't for me. There are many great features of the site, and the site does everything well, I just don't think it has enough use for everyone to end up using it. I will admit this could change for me. If I have more contacts using it, or I find a website I wish to get updates from quickly then I could soon end up stuck on it, but until then I'll just go back to Facebooking, Blogging, Emails and Texts to stay in touch with my friends.
There... now don't you think I used the word Twitter way too often in this review?
I have a twitter account but I rarely remember to log in as I prefer facebook and still haven't really got used to twitter. Great review! x
Amy69 24.04.2009 07:43
A super review! I actually just got an email through from Twitter this very minute, which I think is a bit spooky! I signed up a while back but didnt use it much as I found it too confusing. But when I found out certain celebs had it I forced myself to get used to it, and it is becoming a bit easier! xx