Widgets On Why I Think Twitter is Awesome

On Why I Think Twitter is Awesome

By Nick at March 04, 2012 20:57
Filed Under: TechBiz, General, Tech Stuff, Software Development, Delphi

I have this friend who totally doesn’t get Twitter.  He doesn’t get it so much that it actually kind of makes him angry that anyone does get – and like – Twitter.  To him, it is a total waste of time in every way. He can’t imagine why anyone would spend any time at all having anything to do with Twitter.  And that’s fine – to each his own. But I do find it amusing that someone would feel that way about a service used and enjoyed by millions of people. 

I’m a Twitter lover.  I find it entertaining, amusing, interesting, and good for my brain.  I really enjoy reading it, and I really enjoy posting tweets.  I get good news, good development information, and a good laugh when I read twitter.  I get to express my self in short bursts that  help me formulate my thoughts.  What’s not to like?

The common impression is that Twitter is for “letting you know what your friends are doing” – or at least that is how it was originally marketed.  The common misconception is that Twitter is just a bunch of people posting “Now I’m eating lunch.  Yum!”, and perhaps it was that in the very beginning.  But in the spirit of “Let a thousand flowers bloom”, Twitter became a lot more than that.  Twitter is a forum for expressing not only what you are doing, but what you are thinking, what you are watching, what you are reading, and anything things that you are up to.  It is many things.  It is a means of conducting a conversation across the world.  It is a means of sharing information with like minded people .  It can help you track your customers are thinking.  It can be a source of entertainment.  It can ensure you are up to date on the latest news, and it can even help foment a real live revolutions.  Not bad for a site that posts things  140 characters at a time.

Short and Sweet

Here’s the main reason why I like Twitter:  It forces us to express ourselves in short, concise sentences.  140 characters isn’t a lot, but it’s not nothing.  It is sort of real-world application of Strunk & White’s exhortation of “Use fewer words”.   It’s really quite amazing the amount of humor, wisdom, and pith people can cram into that little chunk of text.  Anyone who cruises around the internets knows that, while it allows people to publish openly without the barrier of a publishing house, folks – this blog included – don’t get the benefit of an editor.  Twitter is the one place where you can know that if you read it, you’ll get things in short, concise, crisp chunks.  (And I should add that I pride myself on never using ‘4’ and ‘2’ and other similar shortcuts….)

I find that pleasing as a reader, and valuable as a writer. If I can express my thought in 140 characters, then I know that I’ve really distilled it to the essence of the thought.  For instance, it took a while for me to get Hodges Law down to 140 characters but I did.  (And I also now have the added advantage of it being in a single place that I refer to my awesome idea – as well as showing that I was the first to think of it.  Winking smile  )

The other big reason I like Twitter is that it is an “easy read”.  If I have a few minutes to kill, I can pull out my Kindle and flip through the latest on my Twitter feed. I’ve knocked out more than a few pages of Twitter feeds at the Doctor’s office.  It also is perfect for solving that First World Problem of being bored while, ahem, “indisposed”.

Third reason?  It’s a wealth of information about Delphi and software development.  Many great developers tweet, and point to articles and blog posts that teach and explain about development.  Want to know what the latest Delphi articles are?  Follow DelphiFeeds.   You can’t say it is impossible to know what is going on with Embarcadero – they have a Twitter feed that updates with just about everything going on with the company.  You can tailor your feed to bring you whatever you are interested in.  I’m interested in Software Development, the NBA, specifically the Timberwolves, certain American Idol contestants, and generally funny stuff.  That’s exactly what my feed brings me. 


Another feature that is both fun and powerful are hashtags.  As far as I know, the power and coolness of hashtags was actually an invention of the Twitter community and not an original part of the “spec” for Twitter.  According to this article – which is a great history and summary of hashtags -- the idea actually came from a guy named Chris Messina, and his idea has become part of the power of Twitter.  Hashtags are used to create groups or topics.  Sometimes they are fleeting – like a hashtag for the Superbowl – or sometimes they are ongoing, with people constantly adding to them, like the “#overheardathome” tag.  Want to see what others are saying while American Idol is on?  There’s a hashtag for that.  They have even made a difference in world events.  The valiant folks fighting for freedom in the Arab Spring used twitter hashtags to inform the world and each other about important, world-changing events.  Businesses are event starting to include hashtags in their advertisements (and of course, folks aren’t always respectful of those tags…..)  There’s even a website dedicated to tracking the use of hashtags.  From the humble beginnings of an idea from a single users, hashtags have made twitter into a useful and powerful communications medium.


It may have started out as a site to tell your friends that you are eating lunch, but Twitter has become a great place for some quick-witted comedy and entertainment.  Heck, I tweet a lot about technology and programming, but I try hard to make a witty, funny comment every once and a while.   Some people’s sense of humor is just made for Twitter.  One of my favorites is Josh Hara.  If you are looking for a series of laugh-out-loud funny, but off-color tweets, look no further than Pauly Peligroso.    There are tons of lists of (allegedly) funny people on Twitter.  I should add that in my experience, the people that are “supposed” to be funny – that is, comedians whose names you know – aren’t really that funny. But hands down, bar none, the funniest feed on Twitter is Sh*tmydadsays.   In any event, Twitter can definitely make you LOL.  (I only use “LOL” when I, well, actually do laugh out loud. You should follow the same rule.)

Parody and History Sites

Another feature that dovetails on the straight comedy sites are some of the excellent parody sites.  There’s a whole slew of Star Wars characters on TwitterLord Voldemort of Harry Potter fame is enormously popular, on topic, and very funny.  He and Severus Snape often exchange barbs.  (Actually, there are quite a few folks tweeting as Severus Snape on Twitter….)  You can keep track of Batman, Drunk Superman, Aquaman  (Warning: he’s a little….”salty”), Spiderman, Drunk Hulk, and just (presumably sober Hulk. (Apparently there are many facets to Hulk’s personality). Want some history? You can follow Henry VIII, Calvin Coolidge,   You can follow the history of the Byzantine Empire, the first 1000 days of the JFK administration, and real-time events of World War II.  And that is just scratching the surface.  Believe me.  There is no end to the inanity, craziness, and imaginativeness of the folks on Twitter. 

In The End

Yes, Twitter would be boring if it were nothing more than people telling you what they were doing.  It may have been that at one point, but it’s become way more than that.  Shoot, a recent cover of Sports Illustrated had a hashtag for the cover article about Jeremy Lin. In the end, Twitter can me what you want it to be.  You can follow technologists, pop stars, actors, authors, characters from books and movies, business, news sites, newspapers, bloggers, family members, humorists, athletes, historical characters, and more.  You can keep up with technology, world events, politics, all manner of news and events, what your favorite authors/actors/singers are up to.  It’s really a huge, fascinating party that you can control to your heart’s content. 

Why anyone wouldn’t be interested in that, I have no idea.

Comments (18) -

3/4/2012 9:54:16 PM #

Nothing worth saying can be said in 140 characters or less.


Jolyon Smith New Zealand |

3/5/2012 8:23:29 AM #

In first I was like o.O''
but then I see: "Damn."


3/4/2012 10:10:43 PM #

I count myself among twitter's detractors. It is not because I think nothing worth saying can be said in 140 characters or less.  Quite the contrary.  I dislike Twitter because I am an arrogant old fart,  who has arbitrarily decided, the way that old farts do, that I shall go this far and no farther. I live online, like most geeks do.   I am however, smug and happy in my decision to stay out of the twittersphere.   If I want to post something, long or short, I can do so on Facebook, LinkedIn, my Blog, Google plus, on a website of my own creation, or in the comment box on someone else's blog.  I can send text messages and email around the world, I can join mailing lists, go on web forums.
I'm swamped with options.  I find that Twitter has an overall ADHD flavor, spiked with a hashtag and meme-overload mentality.  In short, thisseers unnatural... see , and... well.. I'm agin' it.  

Ye Old Delphi Codger.

Warren Postma Canada |

3/5/2012 8:31:37 AM #

Warren --

What do you do when you see some neighborhood kids on your lawn?  Wink

Nick Hodges United States |

3/5/2012 4:28:24 AM #

I simply can't find what to say there. I don't think I have anything to say worth spreading around ...

alex Romania |

3/5/2012 9:15:56 AM #

I tried Twitter for a while. Alas, what I learned from Twitter is just how few people really can say anything worth hearing in 140 characters or less. I don't use social media to learn who's kid said what and is celebrating whatever birthday, and the few individuals that did have the ability to say something interesting in 140 characters or less provide other outlets for their wit. But the main problem I ran into is time. My spare time gets maxed out by Facebook and websites, so I just don't have time for Twitter.

John Jacobson United States |

3/5/2012 10:02:28 AM #

First, this post shouldn't have been syndicated trough

Second, the only reason why I am not a total detractor of Twitter is because there are people who think it has potential (and there are others making money out of it). As for me, it looks like a teenager’s fashion... I would use it for profit or to make other people happy. Maybe in the future I'll change my mind about Twitter. Let's see...

Yanniel Canada |

3/5/2012 10:10:18 AM #

Twitter has a really shitty signal/noise ratio and lacks support for real dialog, IMO. Twitter has it's uses for news and announcements, but I much prefer Google+ where it is possible to carry multiple conversations at the same time and build a network where people really interact.  

Lars Fosdal Norway |

3/5/2012 12:06:14 PM #

Great article, out of curiosity, do you use the Ttwitter from Lakraven or something like it or just the twitter app?  I am starting a Delphi app that I hope to use this Ttwitter or something like it to tweet out information generated by the app. Honestly I am Twitter stupid and need learn the ins and outs of Twitter.  What I am doing will be a fun project and be the challenge of my life so far and am looking forward to it.
Paul V

Paul Vandermyde United States |

3/5/2012 1:17:47 PM #

Paul -- I confess that I use pre-existing Twitter clients, and know nothing of the Twitter API, other than it is a REST API.  

Nick Hodges United States |

3/6/2012 7:46:55 AM #

I did know if it was some part of the software that your company creates.  If I can think of 100 uses I know you could easily think of 1000.

Paul Vandermyde United States |

3/5/2012 12:55:49 PM #

And I should add that I pride myself on never using ‘4’ and ‘2’ and other similar shortcuts.

Thank you.  Unfortunately, there are far too many Twits out there who lack such self-restraint.

Mason Wheeler United States |

3/5/2012 6:30:28 PM #

I vaguely recall some Nick guy going on about not mindlessly sitting in front of the internet a while ago. Hmm, search on your blog is broken but Google works.

Two things: how does sitting on twitter go with the consuming less part? And what's wrong with "On the Proper Design of Exception Hierarchies" that it required more than 140 characters to express?

Personally I agree with Lars (although if you follow Lars on G+ you will find out the true meaning of "high volume"). I looked at twitter briefly and decided that the signal to noise was even lower than facebook. And that's before I discarded my 20 face-friend limit and started following about 30 people on facebook. Unfortunately a few of the people I who organise things I'm expected to go to do so primarily via Facebook, but they also use Facebook to spam me.

What seems to work for me is only using G+ and FB from my phone. I don't do apps, I just use their mobile websites. So I'm only on the sites when I'm a: bored and b: have my phone. Sop I have to make an actual effort to check it every week or so to make sure none of the meat-mates are organising something using antisocial media instead of something directed at me.

Moz Kyrgyzstan |

3/5/2012 10:48:23 PM #

Moz --

As I've said before, I wrote "Consume Less", not "Consume Nothing".  Twitter helps me learn -- a large portion of the learning I do comes from links I get from Twitter.  

Re: signal to noise ratio of Twitter -- The SNR is whatever you want it to be.  If people have a poor SNR, don't subscribe to them.  

And of course, if you don't like Twitter, that's great -- to each his own.  

Nick Hodges United States |

3/6/2012 12:18:00 AM #

I must admit that I'm a Twitter convert.  At first it really was silly, but as it grew, so has its usefulness.  I think Twitter is what you make of it.  I keep my Twitter client running in the corner of my screen because, for me, it's a "news ticker" of announcements from vendors and bloggers of whom I'm interested in what they might be saying.  I don't look to tweets themselves to learn anything; They're a jumping off point for further investigation.

Unfortunately, good "twitizens" can be hard to come by.  A number of times I've subscribed to the feed of a respected industry professional only to be disappointed with inane commentary on their personal lives.  From such feeds, I quickly unsubscribe.  This probably explains why I subscribe to less than 30 feeds, and in total might see 5 new tweets per day.

Kevin Powick Canada |

3/7/2012 1:06:38 PM #

Kevin --

"I think Twitter is what you make of it."

I completely agree.


nick United States |

3/9/2012 2:07:15 PM #

About your friend. On, 'The total waste of time.' It is amazing when it does come to socialization. There are two groups in this world, both value the Internet for socialization.

One group are the visitors and the others are the inhabitants.
He is not an inhabitant I think but that's very likely all.

50% are more visitors, short interaction, reading emails,... (You can check - usually visitors are those who would prefer regulation of the Internet in order to make it more secure for them, simply because they don't spend lot's of time and don't suffer from restrictions). They are simply not willing to share. It's the difference between knowing, we are the Internet and believing the Internet is built up to serve them. Both are right.

You cannot have a good discussion about the Internet security, these discussions never end. It's balanced, the bigger the number of participants is the more likely is 50/50. Totally independent from the age, income ... you can shape any group of the population ... it's 50/50.

Inhabitants have funny photos, most of them. Visitors think they are crazy. Simply human.

Michael Thuma Austria |

3/17/2012 5:15:27 AM #

It is ironical that your post about Twitter is 8089 chars long. The information would be so much more useful if posted as 58 tweets.

No, I do not think Twitter arbitrary limit of 140 chars is a good thing. Rather use blog to express what you need to say, instead of making sound bites sized for Twytter.

Even mobile phones from 10 years ago allows you to combine several SMS in one for longer messages.

Rif Luxembourg |

Comments are closed

My Book

A Pithy Quote for You

"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he can never lose."    –  Jim Elliot

Amazon Gift Cards

General Disclaimer

The views I express here are entirely my own and not necessarily those of any other rational person or organization.  However, I strongly recommend that you agree with pretty much everything I say because, well, I'm right.  Most of the time. Except when I'm not, in which case, you shouldn't agree with me.