A new messaging service has gained some real traction in the blogosphere and offline among the “digerati,” though to be fair most of those coders, writers and futurists are rarely truly offline anymore. Just look at how often they are creating “tweets” with Twitter.
While Twitter was born as a side project within the offices of Odeo in March of 2006, it’s taken adoption by A-list bloggers like Robert Scoble and Steve Rubel to raise the profile — and usage — of the tool. Twitter allows members to effectively “lifestream,” constantly providing details, mundane and trivial as they may be, of their daily lives. One user, David Troy, created an extraordinary mashup Google Maps and Twitter, Twittervision, which tracks “tweets” in real-time on a global scale, moving from one post to the next.
Twitter, along with its founders, was recently profiled in the New York Times’ Business section, along with the service, in “From Many Tweets, One Loud Voice on the Internet.” Jason Pontin, the author of the article, described Twitter as :
“…a heady mixture of messaging; social networking of the sort associated with Web sites like MySpace; the terse, jittery personal revelations of “microblogging” found on services like Jaiku; and something called “presence,” shorthand for the idea that people should enjoy an “always on” virtual omnipresence. “
As Jason points out, Twitter is currently one of the fastest growing trends on the Internet. Adoption really took off after the 2007 South by Southwest Music, Film and Interactive Conference (SXSW) which was absolutely saturated with Twittering. And it’s not just bloggers and new media mavens — U.S. presidential candidate John Edwards is using Twitter as he moves around the country.
What is Twitter? It’s a simple service with an Ajax-y Web presence that allows users to share where they are, what they’re doing and how they can be contacted. You can post to Twitter using SMS, much like Blogger or other tools. The difference is that the platform then sends those posts to a group of subscribers (friends, clients, family) by phone alerts and to your channel on Twitter. Users can turn off mobile alerts if they like — an important feature, judging from the feedback that, for some, Twitter is rather addictive. The service is currently free, though interested parties should check with their mobile telephony providers regarding SMS charges, which are certain to rise with greater use.