Almost every day on the Technology Evangelist podcast, someone will ask in the
chat room, "What is Twitter?" This post is designed to answer that question, so
we can pop a link in the chat rather than answer it over and over again. Not
that we don't like answering it over and over again, but this will free up more
time for dancing.
Twitter is a social networking site based around text messaging. First, you
register yourself at
then invite a few friends into your Twitter network as friends. You can also add
other Twitter users you don't know as friends, which I'll explain later.
Now that you and a few of your friends are connected, send a text message into
Twitter's by texting the number 40404. Whatever you say in that message will be
broadcast from Twitter out to all of your friends. So, with one text message you
were able to communicate with many friends? How many friends? That's largely up
to you to decide.
That's the publishing side.
On the reading side, you'll receive messages whenever your friends decide to
send a Twitter update. Additionally, you can subscribe to other Twitter user's
updates by clicking the ADD link on their profile page. They don't have to
reciprocate, meaning they won't have to receive your updates just because you're
interested in them.
That's the basic breakdown of what the service is about. You can send quick
updates to a group of friends with a character limit of 140 per message.
Here's some more info if you want to dig deeper before jumping in:
- If you're not into text messaging, you can send updates using the Twitter
website, or IM, like AIM or Gtalk. That's cheaper if you don't have a BIG text
plan. And trust me, you want to have a big text messaging plan before going
crazy on Twitter.
- You can subscribe to your updates using RSS, thus pulling them into Google
Reader or Bloglines. This is done from your profile page.
- Technology Evangelist has a Twitter account at
Subscribing to that will send you updates on podcasts and other Technology
Evangelist related events.
- Everyone uses the service differently, which is one of the reasons it's
become so popular. Some people send updates about waking up, going to bed, and
other mundane status updates. That's not really my scene, but if they're
coming from a loved one they may be interesting. Over time, you'll figure out
who's using Twitter in a way that's interesting to you. Simply stop following
people you're not interested in hearing from.
- You can stop SMS messages to your phone by texting the word OFF to 40404 at
- You can also schedule off hours for the service using the site. This is
useful if you have friends who like to do some drinking and Twittering late
into the night, or if you have friends in different time zones.
- Ben is on Twitter at:
and I'm at