First Steps in Twitter

I’ve been cybersquatting on my Twitter account for nearly a year, but have never managed to make any real use of it. Following Nick’s admission that he is addicted to Twitter, I resolve to make a serious attempt at getting involved.

Over the past year, I’ve logged into my account intermittently, but each time my only answer to “what are you doing now?” is “I’m updating Twitter” – because I am, and I’ve been building up to it for at least an hour. Clearly I’m trying too hard. My solution today is to set my wrist-watch alarm to ring mid-afternoon and promise myself that when it goes off, I’ll ‘twitter’ exactly what I’m doing at that time.

Meanwhile, I look for other users to follow. I’m not sure any of my real-life friends are Twitterers, so I try to remember some tech bloggers who’ve raved about the service recently. Certainly Guy Kawasaki, the famous Silicon Valley busybody, has blogged about Twitter, so I search for him and click ‘follow’.

By 3.30pm, I’ve forgotten about immersing myself in the world of Twitter, and my alarm sounds. Sure enough, I’d just switched on the kettle – a quantifiable action, describable in 140 characters, and just the sort of irrelevant nonsense I’d always supposed Twitter users like to share.

Logging on to Twitter, I start to type my message: “Boiling the kettle”. Looking at it, I’m concerned about the lack of punctuation, but then worry even more about the accuracy of the statement. Am I really boiling the kettle? Or is it more like the kettle is boiling the water? Only 122 characters left to clarify the situation…

Before I complete this editorial process, I notice that Guy Kawasaki has returned the compliment and started following my ‘tweets’. Now this is silly. Why does he want to know that I’m making a cup of tea (a detail which I’ve now included in my 139-character message)?

He doesn’t want to know, that’s the truth. What Guy Kawasaki wants more than anything in the world, I decide, is to hear my insights on web technology. So I tweet the following observation: “Given the number of tinyurls used on this twitter thing, you’d have thought they’d just integrate hyperlinks as free chars”. Which, embarrassingly for Twitter’s 140 character limit, perhaps needs some explanation.

The Twitter posts I’ve browsed so far often feature tinyurl.com links where the Twitterer wants to link to a web page but the URL itself would take up most of the message. Tiny URL can redirect to the intended site from a 25-character URL on its own site. Even better, I see Nick is using rurl.org which drops a further six characters, although I suspect the URL length will increase with the service’s popularity.

Then I realise that Twitter has an API and Rurl also has an API, so I wonder if anyone has written a Twitter client that automatically shortens URLs. Delving further, I find that the creators of Rurl have produced their own PC desktop client offering exactly that functionality.

Excited, I succumb to the urge to twitter about it. We all know for a fact that Guy is a Mac user, so essentially I’m having a conversation with myself.

Is this the dangerous realm of an early-stage Twitter addict?