What in the world is Twitter? and Why Should I care as a International Student Minister?

One question I am commonly asked is, “What is twitter and why should I care?” This is a very valid question.This is especially true of late as many famous people have recently migrated on to twitter including the likes of Oprah, Ashton Kutcher (1.6 million followers), Shaq, the local weather man, etc.  Twitter often defy’s definition. In trying to get get clarity, people ask other questions. Here are some of the questions they ask…

Is Twitter a website? Not exactly. It can be accessed using the web and many people access it that way, but it can also be accessed using e-mail, text messaging, desktop applications, smart phone applications, web widgets, etc.

“Is twitter the same as an instant messenger?” No, Twitter is not an instant messenger, though you can send and receive messages to people and more importantly groups of people in real time.

“Is twitter text messaging?” No. You and send and receive 140 charater limited tweets (as twitter messages are called) using text messaging but it is not, nor is it designed to be as private.

“Is twitter blogging?”No. While twitter self-describes itself as microblogging, it limites it updates to only 140 characters and most people don’t use it as the columnistic tool that blogs are. It is more designed for short update statements, quick questions for answer by friends, etc.

“Is twitter an e-mail blast?” No. What is posted on Twitter is publicly shown to anyone who goes on your twitter page which is publically accessable to everyone though people can subscribe to your changes as they come to be listed on their twitter page.

“Is twitter the same as Facebook? No. Not exactly. While the updates in Facebook are very similar to twitter, facebook is so much more and so so much more cluttered and big. Twitter only focuses on the quick messages and shares them with people who are following you but they are publicly available so other interested people can see it too.

So what is twitter? Here is Wikipedia’s take,

Twitter is a free social networking and micro-blogging service that enables its users to send and read other users’ updates known as tweets. Tweets are text-based posts of up to 140 characters in length which are displayed on the user’s profile page and delivered to other users who have subscribed to them (known as followers). Senders can restrict delivery to those in their circle of friends or, by default, allow anybody to access them. Users can send and receive tweets via the Twitter website, Short Message Service (SMS) or external applications. The service is free to use over the Internet, but using SMS may incur phone service provider fees.

Maybe that makes things more clear, maybe not. In general, twitter is a kind of a “push to talk” system to send information, questions, status updates, your latest recipies, whatever to a group of friends instantly who can then access it using many different ways and then either act on it or ignore it.

So why is this relevant to me?

Anyway, as I said, Twitter (or Yammer) is hard to understand unless you use it and find a bunch of followers and friends. Play with it, and try it out. Go to twitter.com. I’d be willing to be your friend. My twitter page is, http://twitter.com/rmyabuki. Follow me and give me a tweet. 🙂

Here is another great article about Twitter and its uses in Ministry. Little dated but great way to get more ideas on how to use twitter in ministry, some of the specific applications, advice, etc.

Here is a list of other articles related to twitter from this page…

See discussion on the potential of Twitter from Christians or other users:

Other useful Twitter related posts and pages…

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Comments

FYI. Here is a link to a place where you can get a cheat sheet for twitter…
http://jasontheodor.com/2009/04/28/twitter-tweet-sheet-2/

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