Friday, April 10, 2009

What is Twitter?

Recently, I feel like one question comes up over and over again: "What is this Twitter?"

For my first post here at Hillel OSU, I thought I would go ahead and take a stab at answering that question. First off I want to set some things straight: Twitter is NOT the same as your Facebook status!!! Twitter is designed for a completely different purpose than Facebook and those of you who really love Facebook probably will have a hard time finding a use for Twitter.

According to Twitter, Twitter is a social networking and microblogging service that allows you answer the question, "What are you doing?" by sending short text messages 140 characters in length, called "tweets", to your friends, or "followers." See Twitter is really focused on making all of your thoughts into 140 characters and is focused on being used on your cell phone using SMS (text messaging).

In practice, Twitter users utilize the tweat format to send what they are thinking, reading, or doing in a way that is interactive to their followers. For example, say you were walking home from class and wanted to catch lunch with a friend (who is following you on Twitter). You could tweat: "on my way home from class and wanna get chipotle. anyone up for a burrito?" Persuamably one of your friends who has twitter updates sent to their phones could see this and give you a call. So Twitter could get you a lunch date!

Twitter is also useful if you want information on the go that is relatively short in nature. For example, I am on campus and really wanna know box scores to MLB games as they happen. Well, I can search for MLB scores as a user on Twitter (a good one is mlb_scores) and begin to follow that user. As games are final, this user updates us with the score as well as the teams records. These records can be sent to your cell phone assuming that you have let Twitter know what your number is. All you have to do is text 40404 the following "ON mlb_scores". That way you will know that final score to games the minute that they happen. This user is also really cool because they let you know if a game was postponed. Pretty cool huh? You could also do this with the New York Times and be really up on the news throughout the day. **A word to the wise: Twitter does not charge you for the SMS service but your CELL PHONE PROVIDER may. Check with them if you are on a restricted messaging plan**

The real power to Twitter is that it is so portable and is a great way to get what you are thinking out to your friends so that they can either join or be made aware. Let's say that you were walking on campus earlier this week and saw the abortion people's pictures. As a concerned friend, you may want to send out a tweak saying: "abortion pictures next to arps. if you are feeling queesy probably should find another way to class" In this way Twitter becomes a public service. Or if you were at a great Hillel event (there is the shout out for LeighAnn) you could tweat: "at hillel for the Israeli speaker this guy is fascinating you should stop by" And you friends who are without an amazing Israeli speaker can come join you at Hillel.

If you go to, the registration is really simple and it is pretty easy to add a mobile phone to your account. I am going to work on another post about how to use Twitter like a champ but for now I encourage to get on and explore what Twitter has to offer. My Twitter username is kbowen327 and I promise that I will follow anyone who asks to follow me (that way you can 'exist' in the Twitter world).

Shabbat Shalom

Kevin Bowen

Here is a really good beginner's guide to Twitter from one of my favorite blogs (The New York Times)

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