3 min read

Twitter as SMS, Email, Address Book, RSS, Answers, Memory, and More

I still get the “I don’t get Twitter” comment often — and I’m sure you do too. Let’s be honest — there are parts of Twitter that we don’t get too. But if you’ve spent any amount of time in the Twitterverse, you know all the places it does add value. Here’s a few…


More and more, I find both myself and others using Twitter to communicate while on the go. Using apps like Boxcar or iTweetReply — which provide push notifications for mentions or direct messages — also makes Twitter feel more like SMS. I literally get a SMS-like notification on my iPhone when people either “@” or “DM” me.

Even when I am sitting at my desk (wherever that may be), Twitter has become the faster, more lightweight way to email. It’s perfect for the quick coordination or logistical note, giving props, saying “hi,” and many other 140-characteresque communications. Interfaces like Tweetie, also thread all direct messages, so in some ways, it provides significantly more context and easier access to find messages since it’s “people-based.” No need to worry about subject lines or multiple different emails from a single person.

Address Book
One of the reasons that TwitterFon is my favorite iPhone client (and more generally, has some of the best Twitter features regardless of the platform), is its “address book” capabilities. When writing an update, it is very easy to access the address book to reference someone.

Getting my first look at Brizzly, their search box works in a similar manner. With Twitter users following hundreds of people, searchable (and integrated) Twitter address books are going to no longer be optional.

There’s been much written about how Twitter has killed or is killing RSS. It’s interesting that some on the Brizzly team used to work on Google Reader – I wonder if they saw the writing on the wall.

As a point of clarification, I don’t necessarily agree about RSS being dead because RSS — as a technology — is very much alive. I just see how consumers use it as changing quickly.

I’ve written before how most of my attention has moved to the stream and real-time web and opined about how Google Reader has now fallen out of my workflow. Twitter and similar sources act as a filter, leveraging my self-selected social graph, to point me to the links I should absorb and give my attention.

Before Aardvark and TweetBrain, Twitter served as real-time Q&A service. Why trust someone on Yahoo! Answers or comparable sites, when you can get an immediate answer from someone you trust? Services like Aardvark take it a step further by making Q&A easier and smarter.

There’s also instances where the people-oriented architecture of Twitter makes it more efficient to find specific sources or information you need. Here’s one case I recently RT:

RT @startupcfo : Twitter beat google for research. Found an expert on Twitter, and raided tweet archive. Way faster than searching on goog

As the self-proclaimed, “What are you doing?” platform on the web, Twitter captures not only what we are doing but what we are paying attention to, where we are, who we are with, how we perceive things, and much more.

For this particular article, I relied heavily on Twitter and Topsy to search my stream for old updates and links. It would be very easy to overlay a bookmarking service on top of Twitter and tag or file tweets into folders.

Of course, there are many, many more uses and applications for Twitter — these are just some of the ones that interest me (right now).

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