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Web: Twitter

Twitter Logo

Wikipedia fact: "Twitter is ranked as one of the 50 most popular websites worldwide by Alexa's web traffic analysis. Although estimates of the number of daily users vary... a February 2009 Compete.com blog entry ranked Twitter as the third most used social network based on their count of 6 million unique monthly visitors and 55 million monthly visits."

(logo from Twitter Background Images)

I had no interest in making a Twitter account, not because I’m one of those people who doesn’t understand its purpose, but because I didn’t really have any need for it.  If I want to share my thoughts on something that nobody will read I already have a perfectly serviceable blog, which doesn’t restrict me to 140 character chunks and has more options for inserting content.

What I did have an interest in was reading certain other people on Twitter (in Twitter terms I had interest in being a follower, even if I had no reason to be followed myself).  What I had been doing was using my Google Reader feed (which I use all the time) to get the data, but the presentation there isn’t great for this:

Twitter in Google Reader

Not the prettiest of things, or the easiest to follow (click for a larger image).

Getting them this way means you’re somewhat disconnected from the conversations, and in particular there are a lot of replies to conversations you can’t see or track down without sifting through other Twitter feeds and finding the likely initial post, which isn’t particularly elegant.  That gave me two possibilities: Twitter is awkward to use, or the RSS feeds are an awkward way to use Twitter.  So I finally decided to make a Twitter account, which was fairly painless (no email verification, just set up details and go) to see if there’s something I’m missing.  Once it was done and the same feeds were added (as well as a couple more), I have:

Twitter in ... Twitter

That's a bit better. Viewing through Twitter doesn't actually add swearing, that's just Pat Garratt. (click for larger image)

Initial impressions are much better.  Not only does it look nicer thanks to the avatars, it filters out any replies not directed to me (so all of them), making it much more readable, plus I can actually communicate if needed.  I’m not so sure that it all justifies an extra website I need to check separately, but we’ll see how it goes.  For now, at least, I’m on Twitter here, though it remains to be seen whether I’ll actually post anything.

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