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There has been much buzz around Twitter, what Twitter means, what Twitter is, etc. in the last day. (Twitter is a microblogging social network site.) Yesterday @jowyang did a great blog post about this and it sparked a firestorm of of chatter on Twitter, blogs, etc. One thing that came from it (and I believe that’s what Jeremiah intended with his post) was a surge in people adding new Twitter friends. Someone in my friend list coined the term “friend ninja” to mean following someone because another friend said hello to them and another friend later shortened it to “FNJ.”

I thought I’d give my two cents about Twitter today. It’s something I’ve been meaning to write, but I’m feeling inspired after what another friend called “Twitter Tuesday.” I’ve illustrated as many points as I could in this post with links back to either specific tweets (posts on Twitter) or Twitterers. Now, I’ve written before about Twitter(here, here, here and here) but I haven’t shared too many thoughts about it.

For months I’ve realized that Twitter is of incredible value to me:

  • Since I work and go to school online I’m home by myself all day, everyday, and there are days that I don’t leave the house. Twitter keeps me company.
  • Also a result of working from home, I sometimes become uninspired or I feel like I’m becoming stagnant. Twitter inspires me.
  • Sometimes I run into problems or need to discuss an idea. Twitter becomes a dialog.
  • I can talk about anthropology with people (something I don’t get to do all that often ;)
  • When a new invitation-only beta launches and I need an invite, Twitter becomes my entry in.
  • Twitter has really become a source of news. I don’t pay quite as much attention to my RSS now, I read Twitter.
  • I learn about new events and meetups, both local and nationally.
  • I’ve made face-to-face friends on Twitter and I’ve become friends with people that I hope to meet someday.
  • I’ve gotten to know face-to-face friends better through Twitter.
  • Twitter has also become a way for me to update my family about my life because they now check Twitter everyday :)
  • It’s also a pragmatic tool; your favorite tweets can be reference in iTweet from the iPhone. When I’m standing in front of the beer case at the grocery or at a new bar, I look at my “Good beer:” tweets that I’ve favorited ;)
  • When I travel my friends also offer me recommendations of where to eat or what to do if I’m in a city where they are familiar with.

I have a poor memory (hence my organizational skills!) but I’ve always had a knack for remembering tidbits about people (hence I’m an anthropologist). While I sometimes find it hard to keep track of my ever-growing number of friends, I do remember bits and pieces about almost everyone of my Fritters (Twitter friends). (added Dec 13 – some of my friends call their Twitter friends ‘tweeps‘ – I love it!) I like to hear their stories; the events, their thoughts, the day-to-day, etc. It’s all interesting to me (even the boring parts). On Twitter I’m exposed to people I would never otherwise know; parents (can you believe I do not have face-to-face friends with kids?), older people, younger people, real estate people, PR people, publishers, social media specialists, teachers and students, international friends (my feed is never quiet, someone is always up somewhere), and the like. It’s amazing!

This diversity is both intentional and unintentional. Since Twitter has added the tracking feature I track things I’m interested in as well as things I’m becoming interested in (like HCI). But, for the most part, my friend list has developed organically and unintentionally.

In 2007 we had two (with) Twitter births, a Twitter wedding, a Twitter suicide threat, people making true friendships (by the traditional definition), people being diagnosed with cancer, people changing jobs, hacks to work around Twitter faults, trends & memes, third party apps, and so much more. I’m looking forward to seeing if Twitter will continue to thrive in 2008 or if it will be out (sorry- I’m watching Project Runway as I write this!).

Find me on Twitter: @jencardew
I’d love to hear your thoughts, experiences, comments about Twitter and leave your Twitter name in your comments (which I have to moderate because my blog is loved by spambots).