Why and How I Use Twitter

I use Twitter every single day of my life, and have my live stream of tweets open on either my computer when working or at home, or on my phone when I’m commuting or waiting in line somewhere. A lot of people ask what Twitter is used for, and why they would need to know when someone is “eating dinner or going to the bathroom.”

Twitter started out that way, yes. It was a simple, text-based system to tell your friends what you’re doing “right now.” But in the years since it was introduced, Twitter has blown up and become a vital part of our society. It’s a prominent method of communication and a vital part of the public sphere. You cannot watch TV or go online without feeling Twitter’s presence.

So how is it used? I’ve seen a lot of new users to Twitter follow people like celebrities, only to quickly realize that this tends to be more towards the “I’m having dinner” type of information stream. In contrast, I only follow a handful of celebrities and/or actual “people.” They are the ones I’m either really interested in their opinions, or I find their tweets to be hilarious distractions from my day.

The rest of those I follow are news sites (APNews, BuzzFeedNews, local newspaper), Sports related (ESPN, DetroitBadBoys), Tech related (AppleInsider, various software companies), and web development bloggers and resources (SmashingMagazine, Zeldman, AListApart, etc.). I follow accounts for any services I use, such as Gmail, Twitter, and Dropbox, so that I can get updates on outages and new features as soon as possible.

Of course I also follow my friends and colleagues, as I like to read their witty tweets about whatever is bothering or exciting them at the time.

So the gist is that I recommend using Twitter as less of a celebrity and sports team-following service, but rather as more of an information-stream, news and opinion service.

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Brad

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