UPDATED March 30.
Time to catch my breath about Twitter, and round up the posts, comments, and ideas which have swirled around this blog and elsewhere. I'd like to list and aggregate uses for the thing, crediting people as I go.
(My Twitter i.d.: http://twitter.com/BryanAlexander)
There's a great deal of overlap between these points. Has anyone made a concept map of Twitter uses yet?
- Archiving. I wondered about using one's own Twitter records over time, blog-style. David Lee King then called this "your personal note bucket."
- Backchannel. Twitter lets an audience converse alongside the primary channel (presentation). Kurt Voelker spots one for SXSW. Additionally, one commentator on Beth Kanter's blog appreciates following a backchannel from far away.
- Emergence. As David Lee King and others have noted, watching Twitter appear, get adopted, used, thought about, reconsidered, mashed up, etc. is a useful case study in emerging technologies. That's interesting to some of us.
- Informal connections. Chris Brogan mentions using Twitter to connect to people, rather than organizations. Such informal links can build into presence and small communities (see below). If Twitter survives, we should also expect to see more organizational Twitters (see News, below).
- Microcontent. Arnaud Leene describes Twitter content as small, mashable, easy to use, and already hooked into services. D'Arcy Norman is one of many noting how easy it is to publish content with it. Alan Levine approves of how easy it is to add contacts (I agree about it beating LinkedIn). Jeffrey Keefer observes that it's easy to Twitter microcontent past corporate blocks on IM (for now?).
- Miscellany. Nancy White and Arnaud Leene each observe that Twitter doesn't replace preexisting functions (blogging) that well. It seems to fall between the cracks, picking up leftover, miscellaneous personal drives and thoughts. One reason for Twitter's rapid adoption may be that it has engaged some live, underaggregated angle of personal expression.
- News and updates. BBC has a Twitter feed, says David Lee King. CNN has two, at least one of which someone else made. US presidential candidate John Edwards has one, as Silence and Voice notes. Seems like a pretty easy and useful thing to do, either for yourself or for someone else.
- Perrvasiveness. As hardware devices continue to exfoliate, using more than one of them for the same purpose (a weak form of convergence) becomes useful, as Luis Suarez notes. Maybe it's the meds talking, but I wonder who's going to publish the first text-to-audio Twitter download app for mp3 players.
- Presence. elearningspace describes Twitter as "allow[ing] you to be hyper-connected to the few people who might actually care" (see Small groups, below). Liz Lawley sees IM doing this, but not so well.
- Presentation of profile. Martin Lindner reminds us that Twitter lets us replicate our sense of self, like Second Life, Myspace, etc. I notice that some Twitterers are making careful use of the small bit of screen real estate to get their logo in, or a main URL. But how is Twitter a different self, a second life, with what changes and alternatives? i.e., is it the informal version of a typically formal self? The busy self, for someone who otherwise present coolly? The loquacious self for an introvert? This could be one powerful draw for Twitter.
- Small groups. Beth Kanter spots Joi Ito coining the term "Full-Time Intimate Community (FTIC)". Charlene Li calls it "keeping in touch with people that matter." There's some difference, I suppose, between ad hoc small groups, and those formally designated by a Twitter domain or tag.
- Storytelling. Steve Kaye points out that Eric Rice has thought about this, and for ARGs, to boot. I caught on a few days later. Martin Lindner ARGishly remarks on Twitter blurring the line between game and life. So: a character Twitters. A writer uses the format to force economy (140 words!). A writer's group uses Twitter to bounce ideas and sentences back and forth.
I'm still curious about usage rates with other services. Does the Twitter team have a sense, say, of how many IMs they see in proportion to the number of posts? Is Twitter gradually taking some time away from other services, like IM or blogging?
- Josh Bancroft jokes that Twitter has sucked the life out of his blog. Good question, there: will we duplicate content between Twitter and other services, make new content for Twitter supported by making up energy from somewhere else, or will Twittering take down our other projects, much as the internet drains tv for many people?
If this is useful, I'll add more to this post. Eventually I'll move it to a wiki.
Beth Kanter's post remains a superb aggregation of these sorts of links.