Writecombination Social Media
by Andrew Knowles

A very short introduction to Twitter

I’ve used various metaphors to describe Twitter to people. It’s like entering a vast room packed with millions of people. It’s a giant conversation that you can dip into when you choose to.

Recently, in response to the question “How do I use Twitter?” I’ve likened it to a blank piece of paper.

What can you do with that piece of paper? You can ignore it completely. You can fold it into an infinite variety of shapes. You can draw on it. Or you can write on it. And it’s up to you what you write on it.

In the same way you can choose how to use that piece of paper, you can choose how to use Twitter.

As a tool it’s ludicrously simple. You type in short messages of no more than 140 characters and by pressing ‘Send Now’ the words are broadcast to the world. That’s about it.

There are a few minor features, such as following, retweets and lists. But in essence, Twitter lets you send messages to anyone, or everyone, on the globe who happens to be listening.

It’s so simple to use that newcomers often think they’re missing something. I know I did, when I started tweeting a couple of years ago. Just this week, another Twitter newbie told me they felt the same way.

We’ve become so used to software and websites being packed with features and options that the simplicity of Twitter takes us by surprise. It really is as uncomplicated as a blank piece of paper.

It’s this very openness that makes Twitter appear difficult to use. The functionality doesn’t determine what you do with it. It hands over almost all the control to you, the user, and that’s a position we’re neither used to nor particularly comfortable with.


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