Twitter is everywhere – quite literally. Having made more of an effort to understand it, the closest analogy I can come to is that it’s like the WonkaVision scene in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (the original Gene Wilder version). In this, bits of chocolate bar whizz around in the air. With Twitter, you get to pluck those small pieces out of the air and have a little taste, or you can follow it up and eat the whole bar.
I think the key to getting along with Twitter is having a decent client. Just going to the website is too clumsy. You need to interact spontaneously with it.
I’ve tried four clients – the Google Desktop widget, Google Talk, Spaz, and twhirl.
- The Google Desktop widget is quite nice because you can run it as a sidebar and see quite a lot of the recent tweets. However, it just kept timing out. I thought it was Twitter being flaky, but apparently not.
- Google Talk is cool because it flags the latest tweets, plus it’s integrated with your gmail. But you don’t get to see how many characters you’ve typed, and you can’t analyse by replies, direct messages etc.
- Spaz is tailor-made for Twitter, but I just found it difficult to read in the standard templates (small, thin, white characters against a black background), and if you want to improve on that you have to create your own CSS.
- Twhirl is the best bet for me. I just wish I could reduce its width because it seems to take up a lot of screen space. It also integrates with jaiku and pownce, neither of which I’ve followed up but I intend to.
The most striking thing for me about using Twitter is how many fellow Twitterers I recognise – by which, I’ve met a few of them, or exchanged emails, or commented on their blog or they’ve commented on mine. I suppose this shouldn’t surprise me because over the past year or so I’ve learned who’s doing what in the PR/social media field, but it was encouraging.
If nothing else, it tells me that I am part of a community, and perhaps that’s where Twitter’s strength lies. It’s more for keeping up to date with an existing community rather than creating one. So, there is a place for Twitter after all. And it’s all thanks to Willy Wonka.