Twitter, a simplified blogging service founded by Blogger co-founder Evan Williams, is hot at South by Southwest. Twitter is a service that lets people post one or two short sentences, using phone texting, the Web, e-mail, or chat, and read updates from others through the same channels. You can subscribe to networks of friends or like-minded people; there's a Twitter group set up for South by Southwest. John Edwards, a Democratic presidential candidate, seems to have a Twitter account.
Top blogger Robert Scoble is a Twitter fanatic. Check out his Twitter friends page for an idea of the kinds of things people post on Twitter. "Gillie" Twitters that she's "in search of hot caffeinated beverage and tasty pastry" Tuesday morning, and grum writes that he "is sorting out his collection of RSS feeds using the tubes. Too bloody many... I must hire some kid in China to do this for me."
On his own Twitter page, Scoble writes, "Things you shouldn't Twitter: I'm hanging out in the Radisson bar with two beatiful women and a guy in a kilt," and "Ryan Montoya of John Edwards campaign was here. He says I was spamming John's phone with Twitters. Heheh."
Scoble is the former top blogger for Microsoft who now works for PodTech, a tech podcast network.
I had dinner with Scoble and about 30 of our closest friends at Salt Lick, a barbecue place outside Austin, last night. On the way there, we had difficulty finding Scoble, and a friend powered up his wireless-equipped PowerBook to see if Scoble had left a message there giving his whereabouts. On the return drive home, my friend and I sat crunched in the back of a Ford Mustang, my friend curled up around his open PowerBook looking for party info on Twitter.
Some say that Twitter is hot in part because there's not a lot new here at South by Southwest. There've been some good panels, but I haven't heard any buzz about any new and exciting technology. Twitter was all over the front page of TechMeme yesterday morning.
Not everybody is in love with Twitter. Blogger Dave Taylor writes, "Twitter leaves me asking 'Who the heck cares?" He says, "My theory: Twitter is in fact the perfect crude technological solution for exhibitionists, for people who are so convinced of their importance in the Big Picture that they believe others want to know exactly what they're doing at all times."