I had a hard time coming up with a good reason to sign up for Twitter. But encouragement from whurley and all the press from SXSW Interactive 2007 (San Fran Gate, Slate, NYTimes) made me sign up out of curiousity. I haven’t touched Pownce or Jaiku, and while I had heard about Dodgeball, I had no use for its Shout feature, all of which are similar feature sets to Twitter.
Now, I’m not a big text messager on my cell phone, but I do love Instant Messaging. My initial take on these services is that the point of Twitter and other microblog services is to allow text messaging of one person to many people at once using SMS or instant messaging as the sending or receiving device. It’s pushing one message to many, one status to many, and the receiver can determine how they want to receive the messages (web only, IM, or on their mobile device like the BlackJack or iPhone.)
So I went out looking for innovative uses for these microblog services. I submit this list and would love to keep adding to it.
- Really Simple Voting Poll tool as described by James Governor.
- Babysitter, nanny, or SAHP updates – parent or babysitter or nanny writes updates on what the baby ate, drank, or how long he or she napped as well as diaper status. Baby telemetry via SMS like The Trixie Tracker. I can’t find a specific example of someone using it for this purpose, though. I would mark those private as a parent.
- Ultimate online or offline status indicator: “Rather than having to change your status on your IM, make a call to your colleague or family, making a blog post or sending several one line emails, with Twitter you can let everyone know exactly what you’re doing with a single 140 character message.” says Robin Good. Tons of examples of this. How about a search for the phrase “going to the store” to examine some examples.
- Microblogging: “it is much faster as writing a blog post, as fast as an sms or IM” says Loic Le Meur. I like the founder of Obvious, who made Twitter, Evan Williams’ twitter page as an example of a microblog at http://twitter.com/ev.
- Shopping, the original business plan for all the web stuff. I think twitter.com/woot is the especially best example.
- News updates and conference coverage. Check out http://twitter.com/googlenews or http://twitter.com/cnn.
- Event updates or invites or general activity management like “who wants breakfast tacos?”
- Mini updates to your blog with a Twitter window as a side widget on your blog page, allowing you to do updates while you’re out and about. Barganista has an excellent use case. Really, it helps you write anything you need to remind yourself or someone else of but you’re not near a computer and only have your phone with you. Think of a To Do List that you can continue to post to.
- Friendsourcing as described on lifehack.org - asking your friends list for the best plumber, house inspector, or web designer that they know of (or are themselves).
- Get geographical by fine tuning your twitter reads to local items. Find an Austin-based weather updater to follow, favorite area sports teams updates like the Round Rock Express and the University of Texas sports scores (although I can only find http://twitter.com/espn which is not local), and an Austin local news feed (http://twitter.com/statesman).
- Integrate Twitter as a cost-free SMS gateway into your own applications as Monitwitter has done.