Wednesday, March 21, 2007

New Technology Commentary: The Newest New Thing: Twitter

PC's have been here for only a quarter of a century, but the changes made to the language landscape are mind-boggling. We have all blogged and wiki-ed and podcasted (or at least have a sense of what all these things are), but along with these more middle of the road ideas, we've also become familiar with things like My Space and Facebook and You Tube. It's enough to Google your brain.
One of the newest concepts is a cross between text messaging (TM) and a refinement of IM (Instant Messaging, for those locked away in a cave for the past few years). It's called Twitter ( and basically allows you to be tracked wherever you are, and what ever you are doing. Sort of a personal GPS system that you activate whenever you feel the need to be found. Basically, you update your whereabouts (in 140 characters or less) answering the question "Where are you?". You can have your whereabouts checked via Twitters Web site, email, text messaging on your mobile phone, or via IM (through services such as AIM, gtalk, .Mac, LiveJournal or Jabber). You can set up a network of friends who, if they sign on, can find out where you are as well as letting you know where THEY are. So who is this aimed at? Why kids, of course. Where's my boyfriend or girlfriend? Yes, this will keep you right there with them. Virtually, of course. As a parent, this would make an interesting view into where their kids are... "I'm in the library, studying hard." would of course be code for " I'm anywhere EXCEPT the library" and a reason to panic. Pass notes to each other in class? So 20th century. Can this newest system set us all a twitter? Remains to be seen, but I don't see this as much more than a new way for Millennials (the 77 million born between 1982 and 2002, and yes, including those precocious 5 year olds) to keep in touch. This is a generation that absolutely needs to know where everyone else is on the planet, and to have instant access to them. Boomers and Gen-Xers just need to adapt. It's all about where you are, baby.

Similar technology: Jaiku can also share your calendar with selected people.