To Tweet or not to Tweet

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By John Pawlak

Tweeting Dum and Tweeting Dee agree to have a battle. For Tweeting Dum tweeted Tweeting Dee a tweet that twit his trattle.  

I am typing on my computer. My dog just walked into the room. I am drinking a cup of green tea. A car beeped its horn outside. I’m typing some more.

How tweet it is!  A tweet is a brain dump of short-term memory, a statement of nothing about nothing special that no one cares about. It’s Twitter at its best (or worst) and it’s a sign of the times.  If you don’t know what Twitter is, you’re in a shrinking minority (and happier for it).

Put technically, tweeting is “text-based micro-blogging.” Twitter messages (called Tweets) inform an uninterested world that you are doing something equally uninteresting. It could be anything. People tweet that they are eating, what they are eating, whether or not they enjoyed what they ate. They tweet that they’re petting their dog, that they’re watching TV and even tweet that they’re tweeting. It’s like an excuse to announce every boring event in one’s life as if to underscore how little one really does in a 24-hour day.

Tweets are often written in cryptic form, easily understood by those who Twitter all the time.  

Here’s a typical tweet ... @lazzmejd What #android #loc home #HTC hero LOL party tonight #Collins galaxy? Courses are now offered to teach you how to Twitter. Personally, I think it would be easier to learn Finnish. Then again, can you imagine tweeting in Finnish?  Tweeting a message with words like “ydinvoimalaitoksen” and “jarjestelmallistya” could give one carpal tunnel of the thumbs.

The very first tweet was tweeted by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey just four years ago.  Today, over 50 million Tweets are sent each day (about 20 billion a year). Do you and your friends tweet?  If so, you’re known as tweeple, Twitterers, or tweeps.

Tweets are limited to 140 characters. Of course, most Tweets aren’t that long. Tweeple usually don’t have enough attention span and ... hey, are you listening to this or not? I’m trying to explain tweeting. I’m trying to explain how it takes some focus to ... oh look!  A shiny object!

Where was I?  Oh yeah, a “follower” is a Twitter fan that likes to read the Tweets of someone they don’t know. If your Tweets seem sweet to someone, they will follow you. You tweet, they listen. If only I could tweet my math lessons to my students.

Studies claim that over 40 percent of Tweets are “pointless babble,” but how can one really tell the difference? But lest you think tweeting is totally useless, it does have real value.

American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan use Twitter to communicate with each other and families and friends at home.

Tweets are also used to communicate during disasters. Here is an actual tweet sent out to announce the need for humanitarian aid in Haiti.  “#haiti @need food @name Merna Zaire lives #loc PAP at Bizoton 6 #12 #info neighborhood w/o food. People dying.”

Twitter is also used in tandem with pictures (called Twitpic). Flight engineer Soichi Noguchi Tweets images from the International Space Station. Visit twitpic.com/photos/Astro_Soichi to see some truly tweet shots of our planet Twittered from outer space.

News services and corporations are leveraging the enormous reach of Tweets, Twittering everything from newsbreaks to advertisements to general announcements. Universities are experimenting with the integration of Twitter, Facebook and text messaging to establish communications channels during classes. Australia’s Griffith University mandates Twitter education as part of the curriculum for journalism students.

With over 50 million Tweets a day, you might be surprised to learn that since Twitter’s inception in 2006, the Library of Congress has been digitally archiving every single public tweet.

Yes, that pornographic tweet you sent yesterday?  It’s documented history now.

Anyway, I’ve never Twittered, so who am I to tweak the value of Twitter Tweets?  Tweeple may be twits, but they’re sweet on Tweets.