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Why you need Twitter

(cross-posted from Shift Lock, my column in The Publisher)

Imagine a simple, free, tool that lets ordinary people broadcast — instantly, to the entire wired world — what they had for lunch, which bus they’re waiting for, or how much they regret having chosen the purple sweater to go with the red skirt this morning.
Imagine thousands — no, millions — of people picking up that tool and using it every single day.
Welcome to Twitter.
Twitter is a free, web-based “micro-blogging” tool that asks the question “What are you doing?” and then gives you just 140 characters (about the length of this sentence so far) to answer that question. Sign up and you can post your answers and read and follow anyone else’s on your computer, in your email, or sent as a text message to your cell phone.
Here’s what someone named tresson posted literally 10 seconds ago:

“Just woke up, took my meds, and am listening to radio tiki.”

and five seconds after that, amid a torrent of similar ‘tweets’ I see this, from someone named philrandolph:

“Just finished Zach’s hockey practice, now on our way to church”

And on and on and on, an exhausting and inexhaustible raging river of mundanities; the Twitter army sends and receives millions of these missives every single day.
I’ll bet many of you have never, or only recently, heard of Twitter (it’s two years old next month). And I bet most of you share the opinion expressed by one reporter who, when I introduced her to Twitter during a course and asked her what she thought of it, snarled, “I think some people need to get a life!”
Wrong answer.
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