Twitter

23 11 2009

Hello again faithful readers, welcome again to Reviews and Roflcopters, the weekly (or so) article in which I review books, movies, albums, websites, people, fine china, countries or whatever is put forth to me. Last week’s review met great reception with members of the band themselves commenting, this was very exciting for me and I hope that this week’s review is as positively critiqued.

Again, if you enjoyed this article (or even didn’t for that matter) please comment below a suggestion for next week’s review, all comments are considered and I thank you for them.

This week I have asked around a bit for ideas of what I should review, and surprisingly, the general consensus is:

Twitter

 I have been a member for Twitter for about 9 months, and admit to being a frequent user. I first joined as is customary with wanting to be “with the times”, at first I didn’t quite understand Twitter, I’m not sure if I even do now, but I know that it is catching on with the public.

 Twitter is host to millions of twitter users, from celebrities to bands to students to people with something to say. Each one of these people own a twitter identity, containing their profile with custom background, their Username, and of course, their mini posts consisting of 140 characters or less, known as “tweets”. These tweets are not too large, and make for efficient information communication, or steak without the fat, there is no predefined subject on Twitter, only what one chooses to tweet about. If the twitter account is owned by a celebrity, they may tweet about current events interesting to fans. If owned by a company, they may tweet about new products and such, and if owned by a lesser known individual who chooses to tweet to friends or miscellaneous people. The tweets are usually personal and disinteresting to other twitter users. Some twitter users have a specific theme to their profile, such as humorous tweets, tweets about current events or music.

Twitter in many respects is not largely dissimilar to facebook, in that if you befriend someone on facebook (or choose to “follow” someone on twitter) you will receive updates from this person. The difference is that twitter is more open and people that you do not know may follow you, and you may choose to follow them, also. Twitter does not employ applications – applications to use twitter on different mediums such as the iPhone are available. Not applications ON twitter- and so less garbage is sent to other people – think facebook with only the status updates. Twitter users following you may find your tweet humorous or useful to other people that are following that twitter user but not yourself, so they copy and paste your tweet, and add ‘RT @TwitterUser [Original Tweet]’ fully crediting the tweet to you, and adding @ before your twitter user name so that you may see that this tweet is credited to you in your “Replies” section, this process is called ReTweet. This is simply reproducing your intellectual property for greater exposure to other people.

 Someone may tweet and you have an opinion, or something to say about this tweet, so next to the block of text consisting of less than 140 characters there are two icons, one icon is a star, which turns yellow when the mouse hovers over it, this star allows you to “Favourite” the tweet, so that it is stored in your “Favourites” section, below your “@ Replies Section”. When the star is clicked the tweet is favourited, and is available to be viewed at any given time in your favourites section. The second icon is of a small curved arrow, when this is clicked the name of the twitter user appears at the top writing section with an ‘@’ before their name, so you can talk back to the user and they will find your reply in their “@ Replies” section, a person may choose to ignore it, or respond to it, this is how a twitter conversation is started.

 If you are condensing information in your tweet, so it is the bare basics, but want your followers to access the full amount of information, for example a YouTube video or an article, you can place a link within your tweet. As many links nowadays are lengthy and wouldn’t fit the 140 character limit with your information included, Twitter condenses your link using external URL shorteners such as bit.ly, tinyurl or tr.im. These external URL shortening mediums may take a URL such as http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twitter and turn it into http://bit.ly/JVsI the latter link is shorter and simply redirects you to the original link.

 Twitter has a pretty great layout, all your tweets and other people’s tweets are on the left, and all the tools on the right. Tools such as checking how many you are following, how many are following you, your “@ Replies”, your “Favourites” and the very recently added “RT Tweets” section (A section currently in its beta stage and I am not very familiar with). Below all of these sections lies a strange section, a section with 10 blocks of 2-4 words, or one long word beginning with a #, and sometimes even without a hash. This section is called the “Trending Topics” section, where if a few words or a long word beginning with a # (this is called a hash tag) are repeated multiple times in a short period of time it becomes a “Trending Topic”.

 These topics are usually news or event related, such as the trending topic popular a few weeks ago, “Halloween”. Any tweet containing the word “Halloween” would appear in the trending topics section of the relevant tag/hash tag which you may click on to view. On Mondays, the #1 trending topic is usually “#musicmonday”, a user may use the hash tag “#musicmonday” in their tweet and type what song they are currently listening to. Don’t be fooled though, the Trending Topics section isn’t just stating the obvious, or news. Sometimes topics made just for entertainment arise, such as “#internetbeatles”, a hash tag I recall from a few weeks ago. Users who don’t understand the tag (which I didn’t at the time) can click on the words to bring up all tweets in chronological order mentioning this tag within the past two days or so. As it turned out the hash tag “#internetbeatles” was a topic about The Beatles songs using technology-related puns. Such as typing “Lucy in the Skype with Diamonds” or “Can’t buy me love off eBay”. These types of topics are very fun, and I recommend participating in.

Now after hearing all this wondrous, fabulous information about Twitter, you may ask, what is the downside? Why has twitter been a hot topic with controversies orbiting around it like a planet? Well, the main point with Twitter –which can be a help and a hindrance– is to enable users to express themselves, from an Australian politician, to one of the biggest pop-stars on earth, to a bricklayer with controversial views. The problem is that people tend to view this as their very own microphone, and begin to abuse it. Probably the most rampant is celebrities such as Lily Allen with controversial views expressing them and sometimes even responding to other celebrities with a negative view, thus is how a “Twitter Fight” starts.

 Twitter Fights can be between anybody whatsoever, but as we all know the internet is full of spammers, haters, liars, commenters, swearers, racists and phishers. It is impossible to suppress them, and when given the opportunity to express themselves they do. There is, of course, an option to block spammers and racists and all, but there are just much too many, I recommend not responding to their comments/tweets. If they know that someone is reading their information, they have already succeeded. If you find a profile with very controversial opinions or spam, please report them, to keep Twitter a family friendly site.

 Please keep in mind though, this is NOT the majority of Twitter users, most are using the site to inform, entertain, chat, update you, and so on and so forth. As with anything on the internet it has a downside. No site is flawless, even Wikipedia, or Google, but Twitter unlike most social networking sites is Ad-free. Lack of ads is one of the most attractive things about the site, as well as its brilliant layout and accessibility.

If you are feeling adventurous, sign up, if you don’t enjoy it, delete it. Give it a go, because as Mr. Stephen Fry says, “In life you should try everything once, except incest and country dancing”

Lachy

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One response

23 11 2009
bob

next time you should review a famous person, or a country.

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