What’s The Deal With Twitter?

Okay, so I’ve been going through and figuring out which social networks I can update regarding my new blog and I came across the PingPress.fm plugin, which is supposed to automatically ping a bunch of social networks where you have an account.  So I’m going through last night and see all these sites for microblogging (and there are oodles I hadn’t ever heard of).  Given that this blog has fairly lengthy content, obviously microblogging isn’t going to work for me (I’ll have to suck it up and create facebook and myspace pages at some point).  But I got to looking into it just to see what the heck it is, and I have to say, I really don’t get it.

According to Whatis.com:

Microblogging is the practice of sending brief posts to a personal blog on a microblogging Web site, such as Twitter or Jaiku. Microposts can be made public on a Web site and/or distributed to a private group of subscribers. Subscribers can read microblog posts online or request that updates be delivered in real time to their desktop as an instant message or sent to a mobile device as an SMS text message.

The appeal of microblogging is both its immediacy and portability. Because posts are so brief (typically 140 – 200 characters), a microblogger can update his microblog often enough to keep readers informed as events, whether large or small, unfold. Anyone with a cell phone can send and receive updates any time, anywhere. Users can send messages as text, video or audio. Several social networking Web sites, including Twitter, are promoting microblogging as a convergence of several types of presence technology. Here’s Twitter’s self-description: “A global community of friends and strangers answering one simple question: What are you doing?”

Twitter users have come up with new terms to differentiate the practice. Posts are called “tweets,” for example, and the community is known as the “twitosphere.” Posts submitted can’t be edited or deleted; posts that are regretted are called “mistweets.” The Twitter site includes a simple API (application-programming interface) that twitterers, as they call themselves, can use to create their own applications. One such application, for example, a mash-up with Google Maps called Twittervision, shows users the geographical location of posters.

A common criticism of microblogging is the trivial nature of most posts:

I’ve been dorking with Twitter .. still trying to figure out if it’s a great waste of time, or a lousy waste of time. I’m sure the cool kids are using it via SMS, but something about having my phone buzz me to learn that one of my friends is now eating a cookie just doesn’t get me that excited. ~ BobPage.net

Gotta say, I’m right there with you Bob.  I don’t feel the need to know what my friends, family, spouse, or total strangers are doing at every moment.  I certainly don’t feel compelled to let the world know what I am up to all the time.  Despite my dependence on the internet and email, the whole microblogging/texting craze is a level of being plugged in that is aversive to me.  Sorry, no, I’d like to maintain my capability of disconnecting when necessary.  I suspect that my bafflement has to do with the fact that I am not into texting, do not use my Blackjack’s internet functions, and I object to limitations on anything I want to say.
But the fact of the matter is that microblogging is a huge craze right now, so authors (aspiring and otherwise) would do well to find some way to embrace it.  The only thing that I could think of that I might be willing to do would be brief tweets (this is apparently what posts are called via Twitter) of random flashes of inspiration on my current WIP.  Maybe.
What about the rest of you?  Do any of you embrace the microblogging thing for publicizing your work or connecting with readers?  And if so, how?

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