SteadyBlogging on Twitter (SteadyTweets?)

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Web 2.0 101: Using Twitter

I've been toying with the idea of a set of "101" series: hence the Stats 101 post I did previously (here; although it was more esoteric and less expository that I'd planned such 101 posts to be).  Also was thinking about: Math 101, Finance/Economics 101, maybe NYC 101.

And also Web 2.0 101.  So here's one on Twitter:

So what the hell is Twitter?  If you're on Facebook, think of it as status updates w/o the hassle of the rest of Facebook.  You still have "friends" of a sort (i.e., there is a social network framework), but on Twitter you "follow" others, and others can follow you*.

Beyond that, it works pretty much like FB status updates: you fill in a short message (famously, less that 140 characters), and that gets broadcast to your contacts (your followers, i.e., people who are following your Twitter feed)--it shows up on their Twitter home page (and also can get texted to their mobile device, if they're set up for that).

To get started: Go to and create an account.  Then post something.  And look around for people to follow (v
lick on "Follow" for any of the Twitter acconts listed below to follow them's easy enough to undo later if you decide you don't want to follow them anymore.)

One advantage of stripping away all the other stuff that Facebook includes--the photos, personal details, etc--is that you can follow people you have no social relationship fact, it may not be a person per se.  For example, I'm following the following: (a wine store in Manhattan) (a local NPR talk show host) (a NYT blog) (ditto) (you know who that is) (an apparel store/art gallery in SF)

In addition, I am following about 20 or so actual individuals.  Most are friend "IRL" (in real life), but a couple are random twitter feeds I saw references to somewhere and added.  See my whole list of "following" here:

And in the other direction, I currently have 24 followers:

Finally, you can view my 106 updates ("tweets") here..about 100 of those since ~Nov 6, when I decided to give it a try:

I update from 3 sources:
1) from
2) from my phone, via SMS (you set up your account with your mobile device #, then simply text the Twitter number, 40404)
3) my new new thing: when I want to post a link, I've started using , a very web2.0-ish url shortener: provides a shorted url, and I have my account set up so that post the link and a message to my Twitter account right from there

Finally, I've installed the Twitter application on Facebook, so that any Twitter update I post also updates my Facebook status.

Seems Twitter is finding a lot of interesting applications--its affecting politics, media, marketing.  But all that will have to wait for a 2nd Twitter 101 (Twitter 102?) blog post.

*Regarding followers from being followed: to get a bit technical, you could say that the network relationship on Twitter is non-commutative, or is directional: just because I follow you, it does not mean that you're following me.  This is unlike friend relation in Facebook, where if you and I are friends, you get my status updates and I get yours.

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