Twitter is a service for friends, family, and co–workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: What are you doing?
I approach new services and tools the same way I approach a problem holding nothing but a roll of duct tape: How can I use that roll of duct tape to solve a problem?
Sure, Twitter has an intended use, but is there a law that forces people to limit themselves to that use? The hacker mentality is all about finding unconventional uses for existing things. I'm very anti-social. I have few friends. The friends that I do have are mostly like me and using a tool like Twitter to keep each other updated on what we're doing would be pretty boring.
A recent comic on Penny Arcade about taking the Twitter question "What are you doing?" to an extreme gave me a good laugh. This morning David, my co-worker, told me that the blog post follow-up to the comic explained exactly the way he felt about Twitter. Here is an excerpt from that post:
The last "tweet" I ever did really explains it all, for me. I was up in Vancouver, and I put up a message saying so, and what kinds of activities I was engaged in. After I did it, I heard a voice - my own voice - saying, "Who the fuck do you think you are? Who are you that you can force your Goddamned minutia on other people, your stupid bullshit, your stone-ground artisanal condiments? How dare you. You should be ashamed." And I was.
Excuse me, but what makes Twitter any different than a blog with an RSS feed?
The post length. That's it.
I'm against spending time authoring content that ends up being scattered all around the net, inside different free services that I really have no control over. They could disappear at any given moment, erasing all of my written history, all that time. I'd rather not give that power to anyone. Not Facebook, not MySpace, and not Twitter.
The only reason I'm using Twitter is because I have a plugin that automatically turns my "tweets" into a blog post -- not just a normal blog post, but one that is placed inside the Asides category so that it shows up specially formatted to make it clear that it's not something worthy of an entire post. If Twitter disappears, big deal. I still have all my tweets saved in the database for my blog.
But why use Twitter at all? It's simple. They provide an interface (SMS) that allows me to save my thoughts when they occur.
Quick, short thoughts. That's what I use Twitter for. Once in awhile I'll use it to say where I am or what I'm doing. If there happens to be someone following me on Twitter who's interested in that information, all the better.
The "hundred and forty character cage"? I like it. Since my tweets show up on the front page of my blog, I need to think about the importance of the message. If taking a shit is of great importance to me, then I have bigger things to worry about than whether or not I should use Twitter.