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Twitter: It rocks, and here's why

By the time NBC's Today show starts talking about a technology trend, you know it's tired as a guy working the bleep button at a Chris Rock show.

But, despite the morning show's vapid primer Thursday on the microblogging service some of us have used for months — did you know a "dweet" is a Twitter message you send while drunk? — it's obvious this platform has only begun its spin in the news spotlight.

ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos last week publicized a "Twitterview" with 72-year-old Sen. John McCain, proving that interviews with important politicians should never be limited to 140 characters per question.

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!). Still, I'm taking a stand against the madness to insist that there are actually Four Reasons Twitter Still Rocks:

1. 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 links I can never read through quickly. But if you create a Twitter account and start following messages (or "feeds") from sites you respect — mine include and a guy pretending to be Triumph the Insult Comic Dog — you can review a ton of material in a few mouse clicks.

2. Go places you'll never see otherwise.

When I covered the Golden Globes, sitting in a Los Angeles press room watching stars backstage, my tweets helped readers feel like they were sitting there, too. And though I can't visit Austin for the South By Southwest music festival, checking the tweets about bands and panel discussions makes me feel closer.

3. Great way to tap great minds.

Celebrities rarely use a public message forum to say anything interesting. But sci-fi author Neil Gaiman and Oscar-winning screenwriter Diablo Cody always have interesting posts. And for someone interested in the future of media, almost every leading expert has a kicking Twitter feed.

4. Great way to have (short) conversations.

Across my Twitter feeds, I follow a pal in Fort Lauderdale writing on pop culture, a Chicago friend who is the best critic writing about TV from a fan's perspective and a journalist pal in Kansas City who thinks like the twin I never had. And tweets are broadcast to an audience of friends, which means I can hear from them, even when they're not talking directly to me. And what could be cooler than that?


Cupid, debuts at 10 p.m Tuesday on WFTS-Ch. 28: I know. It's a remake of a failed dramedy ABC first tried 10 years ago with better actors in the lead roles. But the new version of this story about a guy who may be Cupid and the rigid therapist sucked into helping him play matchmaker has one better arrow in its quiver: touching stories. Much as I like Bobby Cannavale, he's not as charismatic as Jeremy Piven was as addled stranger Trevor Pierce, and Sarah Paulson doesn't quite manage the sexy chill of Paula Marshall's Dr. Claire McCrae. But even though I saw every twist about the first episode coming a mile away, I still felt moved by the end. And that's just about all you can ask from a good dramedy these days.


Samantha Who?, returns at 8:30 p.m. Thursday on ABC: When I called Christina Applegate a comic genius before this series debuted, some readers snarked. But Applegate leaves Married . . . With Children way behind in this smart, quirky series about a woman rebuilding her life after amnesia wipes away the awful person she used to be. My only criticism: The comic rhythms here feel a lot like ABC's other wacky comedy, Scrubs, as Applegate struggles in this new episode to decide whether she should tell a friend her new boyfriend might be gay.

the list | Forget about following the inane musings of celebrities such as Ashton Kutcher and John Mayer; here are some way-cooler Twitter feeds and features to check out, if you haven't stumbled on them already. The site allows you to filter all the posts on Twitter by subject matter, so you can check out what the entire Twitter-verse is saying about everything from President Obama to the Final Four. The Oscar-winning screenwriter muses on how Idol's Megan Joy will spread "influenza-chic" and how workouts leave her yearning for a tube of Bengay and a fifth of Canadian Mist. Chicago Tribune TV critic Maureen Ryan is a television superfan who always packs tweets with cool news about television. New York University professor Clay Shirky is an expert on social networking technology and one of the leading guys explaining the impact of Twitter, Facebook and MySpace on the rest of us. Got to put in a plug for yours truly. Keep up with my latest adventures here.

Twitter: It rocks, and here's why 03/23/09 [Last modified: Monday, March 23, 2009 1:43pm]
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