Thursday, April 23, 2009

Ain't the Internet Grand?

I recently joined the masses and started twittering as @edm3. For the uninitiated, Twitter is a "microblogging" service that allows its users to share their thoughts with the world 140 characters at a time. If your account is public (as most are), then anyone can sign up to follow what you have to say. Relationships don't have to be two-way, however, so I can follow anyone I want, regardless of whether or not they want to follow me (and vice versa).

I originally thought that Twitter was a really stupid idea. After all, anyone can start a blog, and anyone else can go and read said blog. I can also e-mail, call, or instant-message most anyone I care to talk to (I could also text them, but I still think that's stupid, especially in an era where most people already get their e-mail on their phone, but that's another rant), so it's hard to believe that I need yet another means of communicating with my friends. But then I started Twittering and realized that it can actually be a pretty awesome experience.

By far, the biggest benefit I've gotten out of Twitter is reconnecting with my Atlanta friends. I've tried to stay in touch with several of them, but I never seem to contact anyone unless I have a specific reason to do so. I'm horrible about calling or e-mailing just to say hello, and I'm rarely on instant messenger outside of business hours. But now, I don't have to go seek out information on how my friends are doing. Instead, I get a steady summary of their lives, updated every five minutes. Likewise, they can get random tidbits about how I'm doing up here in the Volunteer state.

But the other awesome thing about Twitter is the non-personal presence that's beginning to emerge. Writers are using it to discuss new ideas. Talk show hosts are using it to increase their ratings. Companies are using it to stay in touch with their customers. Bands are using it to promote their new albums. Sure, all that information can be gotten elsewhere, but with Twitter, I pick what I want, and then it hands it all to me.

I'm still digging through all of the information that's out there, and as I go, I'm discovering that some sources that should be interesting are definitely not. Take, for example, the ESPN NFL Blog Network, which I read religiously. Each of the divisional blogs now has a Twitter account, but they don't use them for anything more than posting links to their new blog posts. Thanks for the effort, guys, but that's what my RSS reader is for.

On the other hand, some sources that seem like they would be mundane are actually quite interesting, as I discovered first-hand today. Most of you know that I'm a big Atlanta Falcons fan, and (judging by their number of followers) most of you don't know that they have a Twitter network of people in various official capacities. I currently follow most of them, and as you would expect on a day like today (where the Falcons completed a major trade), I was met with a steady flow of information as events unfolded. But the best information didn't come from the official team feed or from any of their media guys. The truly unique experience was provided by Jimmy Luck, who is the Falcons' equipment manager. Minutes after the Gonzo trade went down, Jimmy posted that he was getting a jersey and a locker ready for #88. I immediately shot back and asked if he could post a picture of the new jersey, and within minutes, I was greeted with this. Totally sweet! That's the kind of stuff I can't get on ESPN. Those are the little moments that make me feel personally connected to the team, even though I now live four hours away in a city with a pretty good team of their own.

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