In the last 6 months of 2007 Facebook had a good share of my time and we all saw it become a widespread phenomenon. It appeared in mainstream news as a source of facts, it was talked about as the new darling of the Internet and it appeared they could do no wrong. Microsoft invested $250m and it got daily chatter on Techmeme and in VC circles. The Beacon fiasco of late 2007 didn't help their case and though the hyperbole merchants predicted it would die under the weight of the Google Open Social announcement, it's still going strong. Well, in some circles.
To be honest I used to check Facebook almost hourly in the first few weeks - who didn't - in their keenness to be on the cusp of everything new, to have the biggest circle of friends and to be in the most groups. I still check Facebook but probably once per day now and it's getting less. I got tired of the zombie crap, of being invited to groups I wouldn't dream of being I had no interest in and worn out by the spam it added to my inbox. All of this is under my control of course so I spent the last few days editing my profile to send email alerts to a secondary account, removing myself from groups I'd clicked yes to because it was easier than no, and removing "friends" who just create noise on my Facebook home page.
Regardless, my time is being spent elsewhere and from what I can tell, so is the time of most of the online folks I hang out with. Twitter is where it's at. Last year I derided Twitter but it's clear now that I simply didn't get it - I didn't want to know what kind of sandwich Scoble was eating - I now totally get it. Along with Google Reader, it's becoming an indispensable tool for me. Here's why:
- It's the online watercooler where I can choose who I want to listen to and not have to move to another application just to listen thanks to apps like Snitter and Twhirl. It's the stuff I may put in a 1:1 instant message that I can now broadcast on channel Steve
- As far as I can tell, it's the fastest new distribution mechanism bar none. When you add it's SMS interface its huge. BBC World News may disagree.
- It combines user generated news (from people I can select) through to mainstream media with CNN, IHT, BBC, The Guardian, and many others who "Tweet" so I get a wide daily digest of info.
- I get that digest in bite sized chunks. It enforces brevity with it's 140 character limit. Unlike this post 🙂
- Given it's broadcast nature, it's a brilliant tool at a conference for finding out what's happening where. I first discovered this out at Mix07 but over Christmas this year it played the same role. I knew what all my friends were doing whilst I was out of touch.
- I can access it almost anywhere - via my PC, Mac, mobile device client, SMS etc. Hat tip to for his Twittle Windows Mobile client
- It has an open API which means it has tonnes of useful tools like Terraminds so I can check on topics across Twitter
- Pretty much all the folks I like to chat with at geek dinners and such are one there. Hugh, Lloyd Davis, Dennis Howlett, Kris Hoet, Scoble, Paul Walsh, Mike Butcher etc etc. Basically, I can tune in to the influencers & sneezers channel 24 hours a day.
- In addition to those folks, I'm meeting plenty of new folks and find lots of new followers. More potential blog readers perhaps, as Jeremiah has found.
- It's fun. It will also be fun will be to see how quickly it hits the mainstream and then the mainstream media
Dan York helped me crystallise these a few more reasons though with his very well written The 10 ways I learned to use Twitter in 2007... (aka Why and How I use Twitter). Most notably the knowledge network capability which has huge potential, particularly in the enterprise. I can ask pretty much any question I like on Twitter and know that within less than 5 minutes I will have answers or suggestions. Inside Microsoft, we have a tonne of email aliases that do just that. It's this part that has really got me thinking and why I'll be posting more on Twitter soon including...
- What I think the business model could be for Twitter
- Twitter in the enterprise
- What Microsoft could learn from Twitter
- Outlook, Twitter and Google Reader = 90% of the apps I use. As Microsoft employee that worries me.
- The future of Twitter and Instant Messaging
My friends think I have gone Twitter mad over the last 2 weeks. They thought that about Facebook too and though Facebook isn't going away, Twitter is going to be the news is 2008.
[update] Mitch Joel referred to Twitter as "the Social Pulse" and like Dan, explains it better than I