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What is Twitter?

Definition of Twitter

Twitter is a service that allows people to stay connected with each other by answering the basic question, "What are you doing?" Once you sign up for a Twitter account, you can post your own updates, or "tweets," using a computer or cell phone. You can also view the updates posted by other users you are following. Since each tweet is limited to 140 characters or less, the updates must be short and sweet. However, you may twitter as often as you want, meaning there is no limit on how much information you can share.

What is Twitter?

This brings us back to the original question. What is Twitter? It is many different things to many different people. It can be used by a family to keep in touch, or a company to coordinate business, or the media to keep people informed or a writer to build up a fan base.
Twitter is micro-blogging. It is social messaging. It is an event coordinator, a business tool, a news reporting service and a marketing utility. 

Twitter describes itself as, “a service for friends, family, and co–workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: What are you doing?”

If you’re new Twitter, then that description might seem a bit vague and ambiguous. So, to help you wrap your mind around the short-form messaging tool, start thinking about Twitter as a new form of online communication. Twitter is just communication in a new shape, but it’s also a platform for listening to the communication of others in new ways.

Currently we have email, instant messenger, and VoIP tools like Skype as one-to-one or one-to-few online communication tools. For one-to-many online communication, online publishers can turn to blogs to create and distribute content rapidly and reach anyone on the web through RSS feeds.
Twitter is a combination of these various forms of communication, but its primary difference is that posts, or tweets, are restricted to 140 characters or less. As a Twitter user you can post updates, follow and view updates from other users (this is akin to subscribing to a blog’s RSS feed), and send a public reply or private direct message to connect with another Twitterer.
Though users can answer the prompt, “What are you doing?”, tweets have evolved to more than everyday experiences, and take the shape of shared links to interesting content on the web, conversations around hot topics (using hashtags), photos, videos, music, and, most importantly, real-time accounts from people who are in the midst of a newsworthy event, crisis, or natural disaster.

Twitter is a Miniature Blog

Micro-blogging is defined as a quick update usually containing a very limited number of characters. It is a popular features of social networks like Facebook where you can update your status, but it has become best known because of Twitter.
In essence, micro-blogging is for people who want a blog but don't want to blog. A personal blog can keep people informed on what is going on in your life, but not everyone wants to spend an hour crafting a beautiful post about the vibrant colors seen on a butterfly spotted in the front time. Sometimes, you just want to say "went shopping for a new car but didn't find anything" or "watched Dancing With the Stars and Warren Sapp sure can dance."
So what is Twitter? It's a great place for keeping people informed on what you are up to without the need to spend a lot of time crafting an entire post on the subject. You just say what's up and leave it at that.

Twitter is Social Messaging

While Twitter may have started as a micro-blogging service, it is grown into much more than simply a tool to type in quick status updates. So when asked "What is Twitter?", I often describe it as a cross between blogging and instant messaging, though even that doesn't do it justice.
Put simply, Twitter is social messaging. With the ability to follow people and have followers, and the ability to have interact with Twitter on your cell phone, Twitter has become the perfect social messaging tool. Whether you are out on the town and want to coordinate with a group of people as to what hot spot to hit next, or keeping people informed of developments at a company-sponsored event, Twitter is a great tool for quickly communicating a message to a group of people.

Twitter is News Reporting

Turn on CNN, Fox News or any other news-reporting service and you'll likely see a news ticker streaming across the bottom of the television set. In a digital world that is relying on the Internet more and more for news, that streaming ticker is Twitter.
Outdoor festivals like the South-by-Southwest festival in Austin, TX and major events like the E3 conference have shown what a great resource Twitter can be for quickly reporting news to a huge group of people. Faster and more immediate than a blog, Twitter has been embraced by the "new media" of the blogosphere and has slowly won acceptance among traditional media outlets.

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