Twitter, Tweets and all that?

Can someone please tell me the attraction of something like twitter?

In the last few months it seems to have gained more prominence, at least in my on-line sphere, and I kind of see what it is, but I fail to see why I would want to [b]log these mini-posts about what I am up to for the world to see.

What is so fascinating? Why is it so compelling?

If I get some decent replies, I’ll give it a shot. But right now I don’t get it.

Perhaps it is just me – I’m over 40 after all…


  • Alan Pope says:

    Firstly, get it out of your head that you’re “tweeting” for ‘the whole world’ to see. Whilst it’s true that (if you don’t protect your updates) potentially anyone can see them, that’s not the idea. The idea is that your friends, family and other people interested in what you’re up to can ‘follow’ what you’re doing.

    It’s not about “I am now eating a sandwich”, “I am now scratching my arse”, although some people might use it for that, if they do, don’t follow them, simple.

    Your own home page only shows the people you are following. Other people can follow you, but there’s no reason you _have_ to follow them back. Same goes the other way.

  • […] wossy, xxandip When I had a look at the ubuntu-uk planet this morning, I noticed this post by Alan Lord.  The question he asked is ‘why […]

  • andylockran says:


    I’ve posted a reply, and TrackBack’d it – not sure why it isn’t appearing. It’s up @ if you want to take a look.

    Hopefully happy tweeting! 🙂

  • You are not the only one who dosnt get it, nor do I. The continuous stream of minute details of other peoples lives is rarely that interesting, I#d rather spend my limited time reading quality content that has had some thought.

    Bar Humbug.

  • Alan Bell says:

    I am also not at all sure about this twittering lark. I have however joined partly because it let me use my launchpad openID to register and log on. So there I am with an account and nothing much to say.

  • Alan Lord says:

    @JP Thanks for the links – I’ll read them shortly.

    @popey, so do you twitter then? I wasn’t sure from your answer.

    @Andy, thanks I’ll read your post too.

    @Adrian, hopefully this question-and-answer process will help me to understand a bit more and maybe I could even take the plunge.

    I note that several open source vendors now have a twitter page which I can see the use for. Simple short messages that don’t warrant much more.

    I look at the OpenEMM ( and Joomla! ( pages for example.

    Anyway, thanks again for the comments everyone. I’ll read and digest over the coming few days.

  • Alan Pope says:

    Yes, I do. is an implementation of which in itself is a Free implementation of a Twitter-like service. The nice thing about is that _you_ could install your own federated instance, and others could subscribe to the streams of people on your instance, without having to sign up to it. They can exist on their own system but subscribe to you on yours. This is the antithesis of Twitter. In order to use twitter, you have to be ‘on’ twitter. This is why it’s appealing to free software nerds.

    I actually use a desktop application called Gwibber on Linux to view the Twitter/ streams. I have also used Twhirl which is an Adobe Air application. can cross post to twitter, which is helpful. So that friends who ‘follow’ me _only_ on twitter can see my ‘tweets’ (or ‘dents’ as they are called on If I post to then that goes to twitter too, and gets picked up from twitter and posted to facebook too. Yes, I have swallowed the social networking pill.

    If you want to chat more about this, book us another curry sometime soon and I’ll be happy to demo it to you and talk more about why it’s not as stupid as it first sounds. 🙂

  • Alan Bell says: is (I think) just like Twitter, but more geeky and based on Free Software

  • BobCFC says:

    I’ve never used twitter but the only cool use-cases I have seen are the more unconventional such as getting a tweet from a plant pot when the soil is dry or an intrusion in the network. You can send tweets form the command line using cURL so I guess you could script all sorts of uses.

    As for person-to-person I prefer either threaded forums/comments or IRC.

  • ferg says:

    As a home worker, begin able to see a stream of fellow workers/friends/others ‘twittering away’ provides the “chat at the cooler/coffee machine” and alleaviates that isolated feeling. Something that other Soc Net sits such as FB can only do by being wasteful of time. I like it (@fergycool)

  • Alan Bell says:

    I am fully gwibbered up now and it is starting to make sense now. I don’t think it really works in a web browser, why would I go visit my page all the time to see if anyone has said anything. With a desktop client it is sort of like a low intensity community IM system. Like IRC but more relaxed.

  • Nick says:

    I never got ‘it’ until i started using it. But then i was slow on the uptake of facebook to. But now i use ‘the twit’ and like it. It’s the space between an IM and Facebook status, using gwibber and using pockettwit means i can update my twitter and my facebook status – killing 2 birds with 1 stone as such. The facebook status tells friends/family what you are upto, the twitter tells other people and also acts as a cheap dairy..

  • […] Open Sourcerer now on Twitter After much time and little thought, I have accepted the apprently inevitable and signed up to Twitter. I have now started tweeting – I […]

  • Mike says:

    I’ve been using it for about two months, and I still don’t really get it. The sheer inanity of many tweets amazes me:

    “Standing in line at the Olive Garden. Getting hungry now”
    “Boy I’m tired”
    “I’m not sure what’s happening”

    Those are all actual tweets I’ve been sent. The tweeters were swiftly “unfollowed”.

    I was about to remove myself from Twitter, but due to this post and the comments I’ve installed gwibber, maybe it’ll help me understand. I don’t know whether to thank or curse you all.

    • Alan Lord says:


      I’m now a fully paid up member of the Twittering Classes I guess.

      Gwibber is helpful. As it just gets stuff without you having to constantly check and take your eye off the ball. I also find much of it pretty innate, but there are some gems that pop up occasionally. Especially for breaking news or interesting technology articles.

      I’ve been quite selective about who I follow and I think that helps.

      There is a great deal of discussion about how to use Twitter to help your business. I can see this, a kind of drip, drip drip, viral spread of your message. It isn’t going to change the world but it is definitely another channel to help spread your opinions and messages.

      Gwibber is cool. I have just added my first rss feed to it too. So you can aggregate quite a few useful streams into one medium.


      • Mike says:

        Gwibber does seem nice – I had Gnome-Do set to display tweets as they came in, but it was very distracting. I like how I can check Gwibber whenever I need my 140 character fix of drivel.

        I haven’t been so selective about who I follow – since my last comment I had a big clean out, and now find Twitter much more bearable.

        Thanks for your advice 🙂

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