Tuesday, July 28, 2009

To Twitter or not to Twitter!

Unless you have been lying under a rock for the past few years, you might be well aware of Twitter by now. How could you escape the 'twittering' of people around you? hehe. Well believe it or not, Twitter is one of the recent big booms in the internet community. So for those that are not too familiar with this marvelous technology, I decided to write a few lines to describe it.

Most of you might remember those good old days of mailing lists (if you dont, then just pretend you do hehe). This was quite an interesting technology, piggybacking on simple email. You would have a program (a bot as I would call it) that would receive requests/posts, moderate them or execute them if they were commands, and then send out updates to all the members or to a particular member (if it was a command that was being executed). A simple yet elegant piece of technology. The only thing with this was that once in a while you would get bombarded with emails, especially if the mailing list was a very active one. Then came the age of online forums. These were websites where you could discuss hot topics etc and opt to receive notifications of updates to the threads you were monitoring, via email. This was not as bulky as mailing lists and provided a better solution for those that didnt have enough bandwith. And it allowed you to sieve though the posts at your own leasure. After this came the age of blogging. This was a marvellous idea. It allowed users to collaborate on a website almost instantly. Wikipedia, for instance is a collaboration of many people. The only thing is that, as with forums, you have to go to the website to interact. I think before I continue, I should also mention RSS feeds. How many of you frequent some websites daily. For instance news websites etc. And how much time do you spend trying to find what you want to read on it or rather what is new on it? Wouldnt you want a system whereby you were notified of the changes that were made to the website instead of you going and finding it for yourself? Well that is basically what RSS feeds are. You download a RSS reader and configure it to check for updates off a RSS server. This in laymans terms, turns that website into a mailing list, where you get updates of what all has changed. This technology puts the control back into the hands of the user, who gets news delivered to him/her and can choose what he/she wants to read.

Now RSS feeds are great. Just that if you want to put in your thoughts about a certain topic, you have to go back to the website, and if they allow, you can upload your feedback. But wont it be easier to receive updates and be able to also update them all from the comfort of your laptop/desktop, without having to go to any websites? Presto! Thats what Twitter is. You subscribe to feeds (these can be people, organisations etc) by following them. And then any updates done by them are delivered to you. And if you want to add your thoughts to that article or retweet it, you can do so and all your followers will receive this. Since the size of your tweet is restricted to 140 char (as are text messages or sms as some might know it as), this means that the contents are summarised and most probably have a link that you can follow should you want to read more. So all in all, it is a brilliant technology that puts you in the drivers seat. Now thats what I call innovation, as do the millions out there. If you would like to turn your RSS feeds into a twitter feed, there are numerous free tools that will do that for you as well.

So take a break, spread your wings and twitter a little :)

You can follow me on twitter at http://twitter.com/nivleshc

1 comment:

Shobhna said...

Very interesting read. Love the linkages you made from mailing lists to tweets!