Four reasons Twitter still rocks
But, despite long minutes spent last Thursday on the morning show telling viewers all about the microblogging service some of us have used for years – did you know a “dweet” is a Twitter message you send while drunk? – it’s obvious this platform has only begun to emerge in the spotlight.
ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos last week publicized a “Twitterview” with 72-year-old Sen. John McCain, proving that interviews with an important politician should never be conducted over an online service limiting comments to 140 characters per message.
And everyone from Entertainment Weekly to the New York Times has lampooned the stupid stuff celebrities say in their tweets (my fave: Taylor Swift warning her 29,200 followers “please don’t panic; I didn’t cut my hair.” Thank God!). Check it here.
So it's no surprise the backlash has begun. Everywhere from the New York Times to the Daily Beast Web site, snarky columnists have taken potshots at the 4-to 6-million people using the service, seizing on the worst examples of Twitter excess the same way some folks probably squawked about Instant Messaging, cell phone text messages and e-mail back in the day.
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Right about now, it’s tempting to tune out the noise and curl up with an old-school Nintendo DS. But I’m going to take a stand against the madness and insist that there are actually Four Reasons Twitter Still Rocks:
It’s a great way to keep up with a ton of Web sites – I’ve never liked using RSS readers to keep track of blogs and Web sites; they just collect a ton of links I can never read through quickly. But if you create a Twitter account and start following the feeds from sites you respect – I’m signed up for everything from Tampabay.com’s tweets to a guy who pretends to be Triumph the Insult Comic Dog – you can review a ton of material in a few mouse clicks.
It can take you places you’ll never see otherwise – When I covered the Golden Globes awards, sitting in a press room in Los Angeles watching stars step before us and answer questions about their victories, my tweets helped readers feel like they were sitting next to me. And even though I can’t visit Austin for the South By Southwest music festival, checking out all the tweets about bands and panel discussions makes me feel like I’m almost there.
It’s a great way to tap into great minds – Celebrities will rarely use a public messages service to say anything interesting. But comic book legend Neil Gaiman, Oscar winning screenwriter Diablo Cody and Time magazine writer Ana Marie Cox always have interesting posts. And for someone interested in the future of media, almost every leading expert has a kicking Twitter feed.
It’s a great way to have great (short) conversations – Looking across my Twitter feeds, I can keep up with a pal in Fort Lauderdale who writes about pop culture, a friend in Chicago who is the best critic writing about TV from a fan’s perspective and a journalist pal in Kansas City who thinks so much like me we have joked about being twins separated at birth. Unlike most e-mails, these are comments broadcast to an audience of friends, which means I can hear from my pals, even when they’re not talking directly to me. And what could be cooler than that?
* Here's the Today show's report: