I never, ever thought I would utter those words. I am kind of a cranky old lady when it comes to "Web 2.0 social boogyboo blah blah" talk. I don't have a Facebook account (and won't get one no matter how many times I get spammed with requests) and I don't use things like del.icio.us. I'm sure they are useful, but they just don't work in my "flow." I don't "get" them in my life.
I am notoriously bad at staying in touch. I'm not a fan of the phone at all and voicemail is dead to me. If it's not work, it is very hard for me to keep voicemail on radar. Email is better but I have tons of it. Unfortunately my personal email sinks to the bottom of the list and by the time I get there, I am too tired or distracted to compose coherent sentences. I also have a strong cleaning urge and tend to delete first, ask questions later. Physical proximity doesn't seem to help either because my parents who live 20 minutes away can have just as hard a time getting in touch with me as my friends who live on the other side of the country. Anyway, this is not to excuse that fact that I am horrible at staying connected to friends and family, but it is the way I am. I recently got an email from a really good friend of mine saying that she just reads my blog to stay up on the news in my life. I think that is true for a lot of people and at least I am blogging more. the thing I find though in keeping a real connection with people is not just the "big news" in their lives. Of course the big stuff is important but the real connection comes from all of the small, daily, seemingly insignificant things that make up what your life is really about. Things like the car getting a flat, the new restaurant you tried out last night, why you are staying up til 2 a.m. to read a good book or getting your taxes done. These are the little scraps of life that I miss by not actually interacting with my friends and family on a daily or weekly basis. I can blog about that stuff but a) going through the motions and writing a whole post about "the little stuff" feels stupid really quickly (at least for me) and b) that is going out, but not coming back. I'm not hearing what others are doing in a similar vein.
OK, so this is where the Twitter thing actually makes sense to me. Twitter (for those that don't know) is an online service to send quick, small one or two sentence bits about what you are doing. You can just put it out there and anyone that wants to "follow" you simply "subscribes" as it were and then whenever you post something, they can see it (either on the website, on your phone, etc.) I have several friends that use it and never got why I would care about the minutiae of life. We added a Twitter feed to the Lullabot intranet site a while ago and I could see what my coworkers (who are really friends too) were saying. It was nice to feel like I was in touch with their day-to-day in addition to our regular online chatting. I finally got an account to "preserve my namespace." That is, I use the nickname add1sun all over the place and I didn't want someone else to use it. Then I decided to just try it one day. And then suddenly a light bulb went off for me. I suddenly really wished my close friends from all over were doing it so I could feel some connection to their lives. I love my friends because of all the little, human things about them, not just the big, momentous news about them. I miss having those "random little conversations" while driving to a show together or running out to grab a bite. In our weird, techy world Twitter sort of gives me a glimmer of the richness of knowing the mundane, daily life of people I care about. Keep in mind that I don't find most of this junk interesting about other people unless I already know and love them. I don't follow random people on the web through Twitter (though you can if that is your thing) and I don't care/mind random people that I don't know following me. If they get something from it, great for them, but I'm not all that interesting really. There is, of course, also the more professional, connectiony aspect of Twitter too and I can see that I will use Twitter to chat about the things I care about as well but the "aha!" for me on this is the connection with people I know. I didn't really get it, and I'm sure lots of people think I'm talking gibberish* (not unknown, mind you) but for me, there is actually a "reason" for Twitter.
Another thing other than amount/quality of content that makes this more appealing than blogging is that I don't have the overhead of making a big post and doing formatting and figuring out the tags to use, etc. I'm not the biggest fan of the web interface for anything; email, blogging, et al. So, of course, there are handy little desktop apps that making posting and following "tweets" as they are called. I'm currently giving Twitterific a spin since that seems to be what all the cool kids on Macs use. You can also use text messaging, or SMS if you like acronyms. I actually didn't know anything about texting until Colleen schooled me a bit last year. I still use it rarely but it is handy when you just have your phone and want to drop a two-second line to say "Made it Portland OK. xxoo." (Phone calls don't always fit into busy days in different timezones.) So, anyway, the point is, it's easier than blogging, which is already not that hard.
So, Twitter, here I come. We'll see how long this lasts, but like most webby/techy things of the day, if your friends do it, it's a lot more fun. My twitter account is at http://twitter.com/add1sun.
* Deep apologies to Angie, since we were sympatico on "that crazy Twitter crap" and I have gone astray (though I will note that Angie had and used her Twitter account long before me. ;-)