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Summary:

Jack Dorsey, one of the founders of Twitter, today reminds us that it’s Twitter’s birthday. Michael Arrington, too, writes about the third birthday of the service that everyone is tweeting about. It was three years ago that a chance meeting with Noah Glass led me to […]

Jack Dorsey, one of the founders of Twitter, today reminds us that it’s Twitter’s birthday. Michael Arrington, too, writes about the third birthday of the service that everyone is tweeting about. It was three years ago that a chance meeting with Noah Glass led me to write about Twitter, aka Twttr.

Since then, the service that’s estimated to be valued at $250 million has received a $500 million dollar buyout offer from Facebook, and when that failed, made Facebook change its game. It has inspired many books, blogs and a slew of startups that are betting their future on Twitter, the platform. In these depressing times, it is one of a handful of consumer web services people want to write about, talk about and actually really use.

What makes Twitter interesting: It is many things to many people. For some it is a microblogging platform. Max Levchin, founder of Slide (and PayPal), compared it to radio — it doesn’t stop and you listen to (read) what you can. To some it is a content discovery platform. In an interview with The Guardian, I labeled it the megaphone for everyone. It’s also the tool that has kept me connected to everyone who reads our blog. So what does Twitter mean to you?

Follow me on Twitter.

  1. To me its a great resource for tech related questions and problems. If I run into an asterisk or server problem, I simply ask and usually one of my followers has the answer. Also, as a new business owner it is a great way to communicate with customers, and potential customers.

    Since this is a twitter article, here is my profile!
    http://www.twitter.com/overworkedtech

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  2. For me, Twitter is a social networking space to connect with other people who care about human rights, global health, and strategic communications. It’s also a place to share breaking news from people making a difference all over the globe. Follow me @jhutsontweet

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  3. Upon seeing twttr in the Summer of 2006 following a comment conversation with Biz Stone on Blogger,

    I instantly “this is for everybody”.

    Of course there are detractors, and negative spectrum types who won’t
    embrace what they didn’t discover for themselves.

    But there is a case to made for Twitter having a significant place for everyone
    on Earth.

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  4. Hi Om, to me Twitter has been a great tool for connecting with people who I wouldn’t have otherwise met. It expands my world in ways that news-oriented services like Digg and Reddit don’t, by introducing me to new people as we discover one another through our common interests and friends.

    I also think Twitter is a great platform for building all kinds of open and interconnected social applications. One of my new friends and I have been working on one such project, a location-sharing site that we call “tmeet”. It’s online at http://tmeet.me and I’ve posted some more about it on my blog at http://blog.neontology.com/posts/2009/03/21/tmeet.

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  5. Someone (I forget who) told me that Twitter + TwitPic had replaced MMS for them, and to a large extent SMS as well – it certainly makes SMS cheaper when one message can blast to all your friends at once.

    I think for me, the genius of Twitter is that it’s a dumb service, like TCP/IP – the intelligence is at the ends with the additional services and the ability to make your own use of it off the API rather than having features as part of the service. This simplicity, to me, is what put it over Dodgeball (even with Google’s backing) and is slowly putting it ahead of Facebook and other more complicated social-networking services.

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  6. Twitter is effective due to a couple of reasons: 1. Multiple entry points 2. Single medium (text-only) 3. Low network maintenance unlike other socnets 4. mixes the best of all forms of communications in message propagation.

    Best of all, I think it costs a damn lot less to run (low cash burn) than any other network while generating extremely indexable content and top notch engagement.

    If they play it sane, the money will come to them and they’ll do well and they don’t have to be a Google-killer to do that.

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  7. New SMS/IM and blogging hybrid with awesome API. It’s changed my life – love it!

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  8. New SMS/IM and blogging hybrid with awesome API. It’s changed my life – love it!

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  9. Twitter appeals to me on many levels. Of course, most of the criticisms are valid to an extent, but to use Om’s radio metaphor, I just don’t listen to the channels that don’t interest me.

    Here’s what Twitter means to me at the moment:

    1. As the founder of a brand-new startup, Twitter gives me a way to connect with a lot of people and build a network quickly. In about three months my partner and I have cultivated over 4,000 followers. Twitter just happens in the course of a normal day—it’s simply another another medium for connection, one that is productive and different from all the others I use. I turn the Twitter radio on and off throughout the day.

    2. My DNA is in market research. So for me, to be able to listen in to conversations about topics of interest and from thousands of people whenever I like is very juicy. Sure, 140 characters is not a lot of content, but directional data from a wide range of people can be mighty powerful. There’s almost always something useful every time I tune in from the wide range of people I follow — from influencers like @timoreilly to regular folks like @napafarmhouse.

    3. Time is of the essence, and I can consume a large volume of Tweets in a few minutes. I can read my own inbox, someone else’s outbox, or follow a group whenever I need input on a topic. It’s easy to cruise, yet I’m no 20-something who grew up on social media.

    4. Perhaps my favorite aspect of Twitter is discovery. Some of the time I’m not doing anything purposeful like driving traffic or looking for input on a specific subject…and there it is…a link to a great article that opens my eyes to something new. For instance, a week ago I discovered this blog by Clay Shirky about the future of print newspapers: http://tinyurl.com/bpxulr. I get one of these at least one a day. Very inspiring!

    Because Twitter is so easy to make fun of, it’s a cinch to completely write off without understanding what it’s all about. Like friendships, yoga, slow cooking, and search engine optimization, you get out of it what you put into it.

    For me, the benefits of Twitter far outweigh the pain, so my consciousness simply tunes out the ‘what I had for lunch’ Tweets. (Woops, I actually Tweeted what I had for breakfast today. D’oh!)

    And to all you Twitter detractors out there, I say: Life is good. Be happy now. Let it go.

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  10. OK – it hasn’t (and hopefully never will) changed my life …. but I have found it very useful as a ‘constant research tool’ – I’ve added another monitor to my already overcrowded physical workspace and installed TweetDeck so I can watch a continual flow of tweets from tech insiders (Like Om) and like-minded web developers that are ‘in to’ the same stuff as me. For this reason alone, I think twitter will be part of my professional arsenal for some time – or at least until the next ‘big thing’ comes along :)

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  11. I’m a facebook user first and twitter second. To be honest, its kinda useless to me..i’d rather do my microblogging in facebook

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  12. For me, it is a great way to share breaking news from our company, and also a way for me to more widely distribute articles I write for 3 different media outlets.

    A key for me is to NOT follow people who do not follow me. I am pairing down my list more and more every day. Having 3,5,10, 30k+ “followers” is swell, but, if they do not reciprocate, why bother? I can accomplish the same things I want to with 400-800 followers.

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  13. If I had to name the one thing that I respond to, it would be the level playing field. So much of our discourse is governed by hierarchy, expectations based on other factors. Twitter takes that out of the equation, allowing expressions to speak for themselves.

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  14. I am Twitter user number 13,943 – What number are you? ( Hint it’s in your RSS feed )

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  15. Strange and mysterious – twitter unabashedly reflects us humans’ deep voyeuristic tendencies.
    And the need to be heard above the crowd, the need to ‘think/shout out – therefore I am’.
    Mysterious and addictive – both very good and very dangerous – no doubt one of the most fascinating phenomena of our time.

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  16. Happenings around the world in 140 characters! I love Twitter – its changed how people express themselves. Its changed my life, for sure!!

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  17. “But there is a case to made for Twitter having a significant place for everyone on Earth.”

    Actually, the opposite. Twitter users skew way older than MySpace and Facebook. The kids are clearly not using Twitter. Check Quantcast demographics.

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  18. I came from being a facebook user and am still a huge facebook fan. Twitter to me is like walking into a noisy party where everyone is busy in conversations and finding your place in there.

    To me its just our real world online! I would compare it like being in Karol Baug walking w friends in Delhi, noisy, some vendors, lot of circle of conversations, and the real me with lots of choice and each trip defined by who I met or what I did.

    It touches my life on 3 levels daily:

    1.Personal: People connecting w friends and being in touch in a whole new way. My gut is that this is the majority of new users joining twitter as their friends or family is there, they don’t do many tweets but appreciate the connection.
    For me, this became slowly intoxicating to the point that its liberating to just be the real me online with twitter making it happen.

    @Kathy and @Yuval put it very eloquently.

    I can share what I like and dislike as and when it happens.
    I can engage w friends in conversations, similar to a coffee room chatter, but its global now.
    I can ask for help and find it, I ask for directions, I ask for feedback on anything and everything. There is always someone who helps and it makes life more pluralistic and interesting.

    2 Businesses: I have had @bofa_help ping me when I tweeted complaining not finding an ATM. People who are on twitter are bringing their companies online. At work I am experimenting with doing A/B testing using twitter.

    3. Platform: This is the real power of twitter. It is truly open in terms of functionality and access to data.
    I am immersed in facebook app world, I share the developer excitement. Twitter doesn’t control the platform asking apps to execute in its environment requiring approval like Myspace or iphone. So it creates a fertile ground for developer innovation to try anything which adds to our twitter experience. This keeps it fresh in terms of what we can do with it.

    Total access to twitter data with the search api is what brings businesses to monitor RSS feeds of brands (which I do at work) and as someone in developer ecosystem I see it brings the promise of what the web set out to do.
    As @timburks put it, it helps build interconnected apps.

    I cannot image twitter w/o twitpic. And I use it from my twitter client twitterific on iphone or tweetdeck on Mac.

    Thats why twitter is different for diff people as we use it from different client apps, from different devices, to do different things and find different uses for it based on our backgrounds as its new each day as we discover more apps each day.

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  19. [...] As It Turns Three, What Is Twitter To You? – On Twitter’s birthday, it’s approaching the [...]

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  20. To me. Useless.

    But I’m a fracking hermit.

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  21. To me Twitter is the first commercial prototype of what will become a standard open communication modality. Tweeting will be added to a roster that includes emailing, text messaging and instant messaging. It won’t be the only example of what it does, but it will be the leader, and the primary trend-setter, as long as it stays in the game.

    Kudos to Ev, Biz and the rest of the crew for not selling out to Facebook, which remains, in spite of its open corners, a walled garden, a private silo. Twitter would have been killed by Facebook.

    As for what tweeting becomes, I don’t know. But I am sure it will have to be open rather than closed.

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  22. Twitter has definitely made a positive improvement in my life. It’s given me a wider personal circle, connecting me to other moms who are more similar to me than the ones I chance upon in real life. And it’s given me a place to easily network and communicate with people who need my services. And because they feel they “get to know me” on Twitter, it’s easier for us to start a business relationship than if I was just some person on a website somewhere.

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  23. Yet another useless social network – internet ad play – being hyped WAY TOO MUCH on blogs…..

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  24. To me Twitter is a flash in the pan.
    It shouldn’t take too long for people to realise that there is nothing of true substance in twitter.
    If there is any positive to be taken from Twitter it’s that people feel somehow more confident approaching someone they wouldn’t normally, be it an industry leader, celebrity or peer. Perhaps Twitter is the Dutch courage of online social networking.

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  25. Twitter to us is a powerful marketing tool that will continue to grow and become as big as facebook! It is the ultimate “build relationships” tool. We look forward to see Twitter continue to evolve!

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  26. I joined Twitter to get some traffic to my blog. I have realised it can drive some traffic but u have to read more and tweet less.

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  27. Twitter is a business booster (http://www.voxuspr.com/extras/twit.php)! And, according to an amusing piece in MSNBC (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/29796962/), a new way to get canned – yikes!!!

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  28. [...] still young at age three — The micro-blogging service is growing, but not as fast as older siblings Facebook and Google, which had 27 and 18 million users, respectively, by their third [...]

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  29. I mainly use it to read stories tweeted by interested people and businesses, so you can say it’s a kind of a personalized digg-like site. Despite the values I see it in, I still don’t get that much buzz around it. :)

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  30. [...] like mere gibberish to you, leave this place, and start reading about Twitter – in these places and others. People will be going on about this in 2009 like they were raving about Facebook last year. [...]

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  31. [...] dismal economic climate, thanks to its simplicity and its chameleon-like ability to be “many things to many people,” Twitter in many ways has come to represent the zeitgeist. No wonder some hip-hop moguls [...]

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  32. [...] the past, I have pointed out that Twitter is many things to many people. The many definitions of Twitter are what actually make it very powerful. (Dave Winer, on the other [...]

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  33. lawrencegmcdonald Monday, May 4, 2009

    I’m not really sure what Twitter is best for, but this is a great conversation we’ve created here! I am actually so excited about the internet for the first time in absolutely ages. I have been with it since the beginning, getting my first e-mails aged 29!!

    This social networking, exactly what we’re doing right now, is the future of on-line. I think static websites are finished. Blogs and Twitter and the like are the future. The reason I find it so exciting is that we are finally connecting in a cool, chatty way with people, without the IM pressures, and it’s wonderful for businesses, new authors, bored housewives, market research.

    Don’t you feel like we’re on the verge of an absolute rebirth?

    For instance, I’ve written a book about the crash of Lehman Brothers (I’m an ex-Vice President) and people are actually finding out about it by reading “Tweets” and checking out my blog. http://tinyurl.com/dyflwl

    Well, I’m not really sure about Twitter… I’m still a loyal facebook kinda guy for now, but you never know!

    –Larry

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  34. [...] be easier for people to share content and could spur them to retweet more, making Twitter more of a discovery content platform. Though the feature won’t be available for a few more weeks, developers already have an idea [...]

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