Sunday, 26 April 2009

Twittering comes of age

A couple of years ago my agent introduced me to a website with an obscure Scandanavian sounding name where you could leave little comments about how you were/what you were doing at the time - and see other people's comments. I tried it for a day and gave up. I couldn't see the point and couldn't be bothered to go to the website. [Thanks to MG Harris for reminding me it was called Jaiku.]

This concept was more successfully reincarnated in Twitter and now I'm a Twitter convert.

Two bits of technology have pushed me over the edge. One is Twitterfox, an add-in for the Firefox browser (I'm sure there are equivalents for other browsers). It just sits in the bottom right hand corner whenever I use the web (which is a lot of times during the typical working day) and I can instantly pop in and see what's up or make a comment. This 'pop in' part is important. I treat Twitter like I treat The Archers - I don't follow it all, but pop in occasionally to see what's up.

The technology clincher is my iPhone (yes, he's talking about the iPhone again, that Henry Gee has a lot to answer for). Like most internet connected phones it lets me use Twitter from anywhere, whenever I feel the urge (and even to throw in a photo if so inclined). I use Twitterfon for this.

So it was worth plunging in. Then there's the matter of who to follow. Most of the celebrity Twitterers out there I've never heard of (or it's someone like Demi Moore who I couldn't care less about), but I confess I have fallen for the spell of that most urbane of Twitterers, Stephen Fry. And enjoy following a collection of friends. Not to mention some interesting odds and sods. For instance, I follow Planck, Twitterings from the European space observatory, due to launch soon. I'm even tempted by 10 Downing Street.

For me, a piece in the news recently sums it up. A magistrate has resigned because he was Twittering about cases. I think he was right - this is a great way for the public to get an idea of what's going on, much better than newspaper court reporting, which these days is almost nonexistent for everyday cases. He was also wrong - he wasn't the right person to do the Twittering, but every court should have a Twitterer, I feel.

I've seen it suggested somewhere that Twitter is just a flash in the pan, which will be gone in a year or two once people lose interest. Maybe, but I think they're wrong. It's a viable extension of the blog into the short term, and it's coming of age.

And, yes, you can follow me at http://www.twitter.com/brianclegg

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