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3/16/2007
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Internet Atwitter About Twitter

The Twitter blogging service is exploding in popularity, as twitterers fill each other in on what they're having for breakfast and where they're meeting up to party. But is it actually useful?

The Internet is twittering about Twitter, a new kind of blogging and social networking service. Twitter lets users post short, 140-character messages about what they're up to, and the messages can then be read by anyone over SMS, the Web, instant messaging, and RSS.

A big headline on the Twitter home page asks, "What are you doing?" Users respond with pithy statements:

toonfisch: "No Jean-Claude Van Dammes were actually injured or killed during the filming of this episode."

metheny There's this dude downstairs (apartment dweller) who insists on belt sanding a huge board on his patio. For the love of...

Brett_Nordquist Tired of trying to explain why someone should upgrade to Vista. My new, standard answer: If you have to ask, stick with XP.

davewiner: "Twitter isn't like high school. It's like the bus riding to and from day camp."

Uber-blogger Robert Scoble is one of Twitter's most enthusiastic and vocal advocates. He calls it "micro-blogging." Blogging has evolved into a complicated process. But Twittering is easy and fun; you just type your brief message into your Web browser or cell phone, hit the send button, and your message is out in the world, typos and all.

Users can read "tweets" from all other users, from friends whose Twitter blogs they subscribe to, and they also can mark their own tweets as public or private.

"It's a way to stay in touch with your friends," says Evan Williams, founder of Obvious, the San Francisco company behind Twitter. "You can tell people you're eating a peanut butter sandwich, or thinking about the state of the world."

Twitter users send and read messages using a variety of channels: The Web, SMS, instant messaging, and RSS. The service also has an API for building third-party applications, which are springing up like weeds. These include applications to provide weather reports, tell the status of various lines on the London Underground, and provide earthquake information for Silicon Valley.

And Twitter is growing fast. The blog Waxy.org looked at monthly number of messages on Twitter, from its March, 2006, beta to the present. The service peaked at 3 million messages in January, and had already achieved 2.5 million messages in the first half of March, meaning that it's likely to achieve at least 5 million messages this month, probably a lot more.

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