A lot of people have been blogging about twitter lately, but not enough has been said about where this kind of service is leading us socially.
I’m not an addict, but I am certainly deeply interested in twitter.com as a social enabler. Twitter is hard to explain (so I won’t bother): you can explain the mechanics quite easily, but people just stare at you blankly, because its hard to grasp the benefits of using it.
If you’re at all interested and want to have a go, you’ll need at least two other people willing to start at the same time as you and become ‘friends’ on twitter.
One principal benefit of using it has been called ‘ambient awareness’ – and that’s my favourite part of it. I can be aware that a group of people I know are socialising casually in a time and place without any of them explicitly inviting me.
This benefit is one of the reasons I love living outside of London, in smaller places. When I was growing up in London, my social life was almost entirely prescribed. You had to arrange to meet people. Moving to a university campus changed all that. I could randomly bump into people I knew every day. Brighton’s good for this.
This has got me thinking lately about what mobile phones are NOT doing for us. They could be telling us when we’re near friends, for impromptu gatherings. They know where we are, they contain a list of people we know…. why not?
Anyway, give twitter a try: its not for everyone, but we’ll see more and more services like this in the near future. The mobile phone networks are behind in this respect, but I’m sure they’ll catch on soon.