So I write this, from one of my favorite Seattle coffee shops, where there is free Wifi and today, free cupcakes. My AT&T Laptop connect thingy doesn't work and I am still waiting for the helpdesk guy to call back to tell me why I pay $60 a month for a service that doesn't work half the time.
Anyway, perhaps I am a bit cranky because I stayed up late, following the Twitter rumors about a certain presidential candidate's VP pick. Sure enough, at about 1am PST, I get a tweet from the candidate-that-shall-not-be-named:
They didn't manage to tweet the news before it leaked to the traditional media but even the attempt was a coup for social media. This is pretty remarkable. Historical even. But enough about elections, you're here to learn more about Twitter.
Geeks get excited about Twitter because its API (programming interface) allows external coders to develop integrated applications and web services. Think of it like a classic Chanel suit; you can integrate the jacket into an outfit with jeans and sporty flats, or you can pair the skirt with a Dolce & Gabanna blouse for a completely different look. The Chanel suit has many applications. OK. Fashion talk ends now.
In a short time, hundreds of applications that enhance the Twitter experience have been built. While writing this post, I came across quite a few that I plan to try. For now, I'll focus on few that I have used and tested, but there is a great list of Twitter apps on Mashable, a popular site about social networking. This list, along with related posts, was one of the most comprehensive I could find.
I think the Twitter website is pretty functional and easy to use, but there are Twitter downloadable desktop applications, such as Twhirl, that have additional functionality and more sophisticated user interfaces. About half the time I use Twhirl, but most of the time I just go to the site, either on my laptop, or my Blackberry. The best thing about Twhirl is that it lets me direct-tweet more than one user at a time, and it has a built-in URL compressor, so that I can fit more words into the 140-character limit.
If you are looking for people to follow, use the Twitter search engine, (used to be called Summize), to search for topics. Or, just today, someone tweeted a new tool, called Twellow, that categorizes Twitterers. Or type in your Twitter screenname to find Twits Like Me.
For you citizen journalists, upload your photos to Twitter with Twitpic (or a dozen other similar applications). There are Twitter applications for Mac users, eBay merchants, those who must twitter anonymously, iPhone fanatics, even for dieters who spend too much time in the coffeehouse/cupcake shop. But I digress. Again.
Next post: How does all of this relate to recruiting? Twitter-on-the-go for those with agile thumbs.
Today's homework: Use one of the search tools to find more Twitter friends. Search for both personal and professional topics that interest you. Let me know how it's going.