I added a new “What I’m Doing” item to the sidebar. It gets it’s info from a service called Twitter.

Twitter is an interesting concept. It takes after the status features of many popular IM clients and also Facebook‘s feature of similar ilk. Where Twitter differs is it’s ability to send SMS messages, IMs, and update the web feed when you change your status.

As useless as this seems at first, I can see a couple of actual benefits to the idea.

  1. Keep track of your family members. If you’ve got teenagers running around with cell phones, they can text 40404 with where they are. Mom and Dad “follow” their children’s usernames and receive updates when their kids send them. No need to call both parents or have one calling the other to see where the kids are.

  2. Find your friends at conferences or other gatherings. I’ve attended week long conventions where people want to hook up and it’s a massive game of phone tag to see where everyone is going to be. With Twitter, send an SMS or IM to one address, “Whoever is up for italian meet at Vinny and Guidos at 19:00.” and the word is out.

  3. Use it to set one Away Message. I use several IM clients and it would be really nice to set a message in one spot and have it update all things. So, in theory, you could set a status on Twitter, and have an away message with code to automatically check that status and use that as your away message. Actually there are several applications for this, including using it to do things with voicemail on the Asterisk opensource PBX, such as prefacing messages with “OUT:” which would automatically forward incoming calls to your cell, or “DND:” which would send everything to voicemail without ringing the phone, but I will spare you anymore of my technobableistic musings on that for now.

So, how does it work anyway?

You sign up for a Twitter account, and then give it a status. Your friends “follow” you and when you change your status they can see what you said. You have the option to let anyone follow you, or approve everyone who wants to do so (a nice option if you prefer privacy).

You have 3 options for changing your status. You can either use the website, send an IM (through many of the popular services), or SMS 40404. You can receive messages in all of these same ways. For example, since I don’t currently use SMS (Text Messaging) I can get updates on what my friends are doing on the site, or on IM. You can also add your status, as I did, to your website with their “badges.”

I thought it was pretty cool. We’ll see if it actually has any practical applications (I suppose it will only if anyone else I know uses it). 🙂

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