Why I use Twitter

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3D Fail WhaleI have to explain this one a lot. As often as mass media is beginning to refer to Twitter as the next web phenomenon, I meet a lot of people that are positively baffled by it. From my experience, these folks are easily split into two categories:

If you’re in the first category, you should stop reading and go take a look at Twitter. Seriously, go take a look.

Back? Formed an opinion? Fantastic!

If you think Twitter looks pretty cool, you probably shouldn’t waste your time with this post. Instead, I would suggest visiting my profile and following me. Trust me, there is no better way to enjoy the service than to get yourself a constant stream of design, tech, music and geek thoughts. Would I lie to you? Of course not. The rest of you should keep reading.

I need to make a confession. I enjoy Twitter in spite of itself. It’s true; I think there are some serious problems with the service. In no particular order:

So why do I stick around? Because it is the largest service dedicated to the concept of mass-messaging.

Twitter started as a sort of micro-blogging platform, and the current interface is still very much catered to this behavior. I guess the idea was that, if people loved blogs so much, maybe they would love blogs that were really, really small. As in, limited to 140 characters a post. Amazing.

Then something really cool happened. Twitter users wanted a means to converse through their miniature updates. So what happened? They appropriated the ‘@’ symbol as a means of identification. Now, Twitter users could talk to each other through their status updates by referring to the intended recipient as @username.

blue_128Although Twitter has direct messaging for one-on-one conversations, @replies are much more significant. Their introduction transformed the service from a dwarf blog network to a vast, communal conversation stream. This means that Twitter no longer appeals solely to egomaniacs wishing to hurl 140 more characters into the abyss; it’s useful for anyone wishing to join a potentially ever-expanding conversation.

I have landed commissions, arranged real-life meetups, compared media center solutions and forged friendships through this service, all thanks to its aptitude for spontaneous, micro-viral thoughtstreams.

I don’t consider myself an expert of the service (in fact, I’m a rather casual user in comparison to many), and I typically frown upon articles promising seemingly lucrative Twitter tips, but here are lessons I’ve learned that have made Twitter much more enjoyable:

The fact remains that Twitter isn’t for everybody. It certainly does not reward private people. Your investment is participation, and you get out of it what you put into it.

Ready to get started? Follow me, then send something @tylersticka. I’d love to hear from you!

Update (5/9): I still love Tweetdeck on the PC, but I must profess that Tweetie has taken over my Twitter usage on both Mac and iPhone platforms. Give it a spin!