If the Twitter phenomenon is nothing new, the social network of "microblogging" is more about him in the general media. How a service is limited to tiny messages of 140 characters can win such an accession to the point of the quote as an example of a bulwark against censorship?
Without wishing to repeat the history of online communication, we can summarize it by noting that since the democratization of the Internet in the mid 90’s, various forms of electronic communication have gradually covered all possible scenarios that may arise. It was believed to have reached the pinnacle with instant messaging and VoIP, but the real revolution of recent years is not the direct but the slight delay, which was developed largely with social networks like MySpace, Facebook and Twitter.
Before entering the heart of the matter, it may be necessary to define what Twitter. Unlike traditional blogs, which allow overflows on long argumentative messages, Twitter is to post short messages (140 characters maximum) to go to the essentials. In a way, Twitter would be the equivalent of SMS to the web, this is almost an SMS to a particular person. The extreme simplicity of the system allowed him to find anywhere, including mobile phones. Many services also use the Twitter API to offer other services such as sharing photos or even short videos. To see more clearly, we look at the little bird that has clearly not finished chirrup.
Twitter concept and uses
To understand the place of Twitter in the variety of online communications, there is a quick overview of them. It is not what you re an email or instant message, but to summarize, there are two types of resources. On the one hand, there are ways delayed the traditional mail and let the blog to converse with friends and to keep track of your news and your interests and other heart-beating (or coups ). The mail may well be used as a means of rapid communication but traditionally, it is a medium with which we will take the time to write. At the other end of the spectrum are instant messaging and VoIP. Not bother to do a drawing, this is to communicate directly.
There is obviously an interest to occupy all the scenarios of communication possible. That’s why services like Facebook, MySpace or Twitter have invested the space between the delayed and direct, and most importantly, the space between the strictly private communication (mail, chat) and public communication (the edition of a website or a blog). This area is highly strategic as it responds to concrete needs to inform his family of what we do, to share some of the heart or a coup de gueule without writing a novel on his blog, or publish some Photos of the day to make them available to everyone. This may sound trivial but it is what makes the success of these services including Twitter allow all his relatives to keep quickly aware of its relevance.
I turn more specifically Twitter. What is it? Twitter is a service which involves sending tiny messages of 140 characters. In a way, we could define Twitter as a kind of personal RSS feeds. The most important concept of Twitter is monitoring. In Facebook or MySpace, you add friends. In Twitter, you follow the news of your loved ones, and they follow each other yours. The interactions are much more limited than in other more general services such as Facebook. Here, the point of applications, testing, photo gallery and discussion groups. The aim is solely to post "tweets", the famous 140-character messages, and track those of your friends or people you’re following the news.
This simplicity has made the success of the network. It also promotes its use on mobile devices. As such, send a "tweet" is no different from sending an SMS. It sends an SMS to prevent a particular person but "tweeter" to enrich its newswire and keep all his family together. Use Mobile Twitter makes it a medium of choice since it allows, for example, to send an impression to warm the place you visit at the other end of the world. The limit of 140 characters have to be short and also not to interfere with its activity "normal", as opposed to writing a blog post that needs to arise and focus on its subject.
Besides its function as a thread of personal information, use of Twitter has been recaptured since, becoming a vehicle for interesting watch, thanks to its research opportunities. It was thus able to see information relayed via Twitter before the news agencies do not treat them, in several cases where witnesses were able to directly back the facts. The service is therefore especially useful to find a wealth of information on a specific topic. Some initiatives have also transformed TwitterJobSearch service job search tools. On a much more trivial, such as Facebook and Myspace, Twitter has obviously been hijacked by the celebrity or the recording industry. Include random on behalf of Ashton Kutcher and publications rather indiscreet photos of Demi Moore, interventions often prickly Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails, or even the official use of the service by some groups such as Oasis. In short, as often, Twitter is a tool with various uses, and where the worst cotoie the best.
Twitter Interface and Features
How does Twitter? The service requires a period of course registration. It will let you choose a user name and import any contacts from your Gmail box, AOL or Yahoo Mail. If the service is among the email addresses of your contacts, addresses corresponding to Twitter accounts, you will automatically subscribe to these accounts to follow. It is also necessary that these accounts do not require authorization, it is possible to make his private Twitter account options via the Service.
Once your account is created, you find yourself on a very minimalist look, but the input field Tweet. As you have already heard many times, a "tweet" is maximum 140 characters.It can contain only text, at least via the Twitter site. We will see that other services and applications using Twitter to send photos and even videos. The input field is accompanied by signs of a meter.
The side panel of the interface is divided into several parts. The first shows two important statistics of the accounts that follow ( "following_me") and the accounts that follow your updates (followers_me). The second displays a list of the most popular on the network. Finally, a mosaic of Twitter accounts that follow are located at the bottom of the panel, and provides quick access to one of them.
The Syntax Rules
For a neophyte, the observation of a Twitter feed can be quite confusing. What do these symbols @ or # scattered messages? This is the basics of the syntax of the service. These symbols have several functions. The pseudo arobase monitoring a user can send a message to it. Your message will be posted to your account, but the reference pseudo @ means it is particularly addressed to this person.Twitter can also send private messages to a user.
The second tag, the hash is intended for research purposes. Twitter language, we call it "hashtag". Insert a word preceded by the tag # is for keywords that are associated with sites like Flickr. Specifically, it can easily find posts on a specific topic. Say you write a "tweet" on the iPhone in the word preceding the symbol # iPhone, it will add to the list of tweets previously created, and with this tag. A hashtag is clickable. When you click on the word "tagged", you go to search results containing that word. The list of the most followed is available from the right pane. For more detailed search, you can visit Hashtags.org that displays statistics on the trends in terms of tags. The hashtags are popular at the time of current events. In fact, they were created during the fires in California in 2007. Users looking for information on this subject could easily be found by searching the tag # sandiegofire. At the time of writing, the most popular tag is # iranelection used for all the tweets related to the aftermath of presidential elections in Iran. However, the use of tags is governed by rules of conduct they are poorly seen when used improperly, Twitter diverting its main functionality. Used sparingly and respect, they can still be a tool for communication and efficient search.
Short URLs to save space
In 140 characters, it is obviously difficult to provide a link to a web address itself can exceed the quota. This is why Twitter has fostered the development of gearboxes of URLs, of services which enable, from an address copied and pasted to generate a much shorter address that refer to the corresponding site, but by reducing very strongly the number of characters. These include tinyurl or is.gd, the latter having the advantage of reducing the domain name to 5 characters. We must still remember the risks associated with reduced URL. Transform those base address in a string of characters totally obscure. It is therefore impossible to know exactly what is hidden behind a page which can be risky.
As we have seen, Twitter does not, in principle, add photos or videos. Nevertheless, the Service API available for developers, other services allow, via his Twitter account, share media files. For photos, see eg TwitPic, which lets you send photos via the website Twitpic either directly by an email address that you assigned when you connect to the service, which allows you to send pictures by mail from a mobile phone. In the same type, it could also include yFrog, a service created by ImageShack, which allows a user to upload, plus photos, video files from many formats (MP4, MOV, AVI …). Still on the video, Twideo mixture of API and Twitter vSocial, allows the publication of videos from the main formats, within a limit of 100 K. Obviously this is not to publish a movie of 2 hours but small video messages.
Personalization and privacy
By its very nature more minimalist, Twitter has a priority less likely related to the protection of privacy on Facebook which a number of personal information may pass. It is possible to restrict access to his account the option is on the Account Settings tab (Settings). Once access is limited, all requests for monitoring your account must be approved by you. Limiting access will also remove your account from the Public Timeline, a section to monitor the news for all members registered on the network. In terms of customizing the page, you can choose from several predefined themes, but you can also add your own background image. An avatar can also be added.
Twitter some applications to take advantage of the service
Like any web service that meets Twitter has inspired developers of third-party applications that are quick to develop applications for computer or smartphone. In addition, several software packages have also added Twitter to their bow. We will present a selection.
Twiterrific use Twitter on the iPhone
Several applications exist for Twitter on iPhone and iPod Touch. One of the most popular is the publisher Twiterrific Iconfactory. Already available on Mac OS X, Twiterrific is fairly comprehensive and the course offers basic functionalities (sending tweets, replies, private messages), but also send photos from the images on their phone or from the camera from the iPhone or GPS to display the public Twitter accounts located near you. On the research side, the engine offers enough options complete search for a word or a full string, search for messages from a person or to the latter, or search by location. The interface has very nice colors and can even customize the font size. While other applications exist, Twiterrific remains a good choice to use Twitter on the Apple smartphone.
TinyTwitter Using Twitter on Windows Mobile
If you have HTC Touch qu’iPhone, you can "tweeter" quite simply with Tiny Twitter. More minimalist Twiterrific that it offers all the same essential features such as sending private messages, as well as support of the GPS location if your device is equipped with the chip properly. You can then select your GPS in your message. Rather designed as a quick way to use the service, we can not say that Tiny Twitter crumbling under the weight of features but it seems to do its job properly.
Flock: social browser opens to Twitter
Based on Mozilla Firefox, the browser Flock is somehow a "customized" of the browser Mozilla, optimized for the use of social networks and community sites (YouTube, Flickr …) through multiple toolbars rather practices. The browser was running Facebook and MySpace so far with regard to social networks. Version 2.5 adds support for Twitter, in addition to the People Bar. This one will display the latest news of your contacts and post new messages without going through the sites in question. The value for the addicted to social networks, is the possibility of mixing notifications Twitter, Facebook and MySpace in one stream.
The integration does not stop there: MyWorld page browser, composed of widgets in Netvibes line, gains a Twitter Search module which enables you to search for keywords or "hashtags" or visit the latest trends via a popup menu. It is possible to reply to messages directly from the widget. Added to the many features of social Flock, that care rather well-designed browser is a tool of choice for users, although one might think that the frieze overdose of content and toolbars. Warning: The version 2.5 of Flock is available in English at the time of writing.
Twitterfox put a Twitter in your Firefox
If you already use Mozilla Firefox and you are fully satisfied, there is also a very nice extension appropriately named TwitterFox. This one fits in the status bar and displays a balloon to notify you in real-time Tweets of your contacts. By clicking on the logo will bring up interface that displays the last 40 tweets used and provides access to full functionality Tweeter (messages, links), respond retweeter or delete a message, add a tweet Bookmark or still come to your page. The interface is customizable and a warning sound can be added to receive a new message. A significant detail to finish the application can track multiple accounts!
Twitter in IM Clients
The integration of Twitter with an IM client seems quite logical. Some customers are beginning to address the topic, and this is particularly true of Adium. The alternative client for Mac OS X already proposed many protocols (MSN, AIM, Google Talk, ICQ, Facebook …) and version 1.4, currently in beta, will grow to support Twitter. Unfortunately, at the time of writing, it seems impossible to activate this protocol, which requires prior code on the site of Twitter. Also in the field of e-mail clients, get the latest version of Windows Live Messenger allows you to receive notifications Twitter and Facebook in the panel "What’s New" section of the interface. Finally, it may be recalled that the service will come, like Facebook, the interface of the Xbox 360 console from Microsoft.
What about Twitter? Like all social networks, the concept can be bewildering from the outside: we already have the mail for offline connections and instant messaging for live, why would invest at any price this intermediary space? However, the popularity of the service is easy to explain Twitter is not only a simple and effective way to keep close track of his business, but also a channel of information interesting. With the system widely adopted hashtags and trends adopted by most software or services compatible with the service, Twitter allows you to know in a few clicks that many users have to say about a given topic. At the time of writing, the trends are clearly up to the Iranian election, or in a more trivial, out of the iPhone OS 3.0. Clicking on these trends will get a lot of opinions, links, or photos.
The service is not flawless after all. His popularity obviously promotes the abuse of all kinds, including the use of trends to spend on advertising or spam. It is thus not uncommon to come across advertisements operating a "hashtag" in fashion. Another problem may arise URLs reduced generally used to save characters. These are completely dark and offer no indication that content can be found behind. Finally, like all other popular online services, Twitter is also a victim of phishing or "phishing" sites are fraudulent go to the homepage of the service to steal login information for the user.
In the end, like Facebook, the question on Twitter the protection of privacy. In addition to the interest of the service, which may seem very trivial and exhibitionist (Did we really need to know minute by minute what his family ate, drank, watched or visited?), It can be quite surprised at the ease with which encourage these services to disclose key information about his private life. Of course, as with Facebook, you can set up Twitter to make it private, but everyone knows that playing the game of social networks, is opening his account with the rest of the planet. We often speak of network monitoring, it is moved when certain laws could put one foot in a dangerous area, but on the other hand, it is possible to know that millions of people are doing or what music they listen, simply because they willingly share this information on the Net.
Also, the question of the future of the service is whether the end-users do not they get tired of receiving these daily updates on their friends? To this one might reply that the service is not intended to tell his life Twitter is also a way to express his opinion on topical issues, films or technologies. Predicting the future of Twitter is quite difficult without leaving his crystal ball. However, it seems that the network is the subject of much envy that rumors of redemption or reconciliation are frequent and even lent, there is a few weeks, such intentions to Apple or Google. In both cases one could see simulitudes in the approach and design, but the rumors were quickly denied. Anyway, you should still read many twittering in the months to come …