"You’re following him on Twitter? That’s weird, honey."

The conversation went something like this:

It’s storming pretty hard in Salt Lake. Power’s out, rain is falling sideways.

How do you know,” asks my wife as she brushes her teeth, getting ready to call it a day.

Well, you know Twitter? One of the guys I follow on Twitter just posted about how he’s stuck in his car on the side of the freeway.” I pause. “I guess ‘follow’ isn’t really the right word”.

She looks at me as if I’m not the same person she married. “It's 10 o'clock at night, you know what he’s doing. You’re following him.
Even I know that Twitter’s weird. That’s why I don’t expect everyone to understand it. I certainly don’t expect everybody to use it and am kind of glad that many people don’t. Can you imagine a person in prison using Twitter? (Tweet 1: Staring at wall. Tweet 2: Staring at wall, still.) Nevertheless, when my own wife accuses me of being a stalker (speaking of prison), I start to question what I’m really doing.

So I’ll ask the question again, this time with a better idea of my answer.

What in the Web 2.0 is Twitter?

Because if Twitter is nothing more than a huge stalk-fest, then I think I’ll pass. Five hundred sixteen “tweets” later however, I’m convinced that it’s nothing of the sort.

I'm convinced that Twitter is about community. Twitter is about people. Twitter is about the network. Here's an example of what I mean:

[Translation: SL = Second Life user name, RL = Real Life user name]

So Twitter's ability to connect me with a network of like-minded people is huge. However, there's more to it than just the network. Take "the news" as another example. I’ve noticed a strange thing happen to "the news" as I have used Twitter. With Twitter, the news has added meaning for me. Like when I learned about the steam explosion that happened in New York a few weeks ago. It brought the news home to me knowing that one of my colleagues was so close to the actual event.

To continue, remember the rain storm I referred to in the beginning of this post? I could have watched the news (like normal people) to see that a storm was making its way across the Wasatch Front. I would have learned the facts and been able to prepare for the inevitable. However, seeing that Thom (a person whose Twitter tweets I follow) was stuck in the storm, sitting in his car on the side of the freeway because of the storm, I immediately understood what kind of storm I would probably be dealing with.

Furthermore, because I “know” Thom (through his tweets), I now have an emotional tie to the news that I once only watched.
“So that's Twitter, honey. Weird? Yes. But that's just the way I like it.”
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