Sabtu, 03 Juli 2010

Rough guide to twitter (part 1)

Part 1 of I don't even know how much this will be.

As a beginning, I apologise for using English in this (series of) post. I pledged myself to write in Bahasa Indonesia for this blog, but now I just have to. Really sorry. But I'll try my best to write in plainest English I know. Come aboard and let us begin!


Web has evolved during these years. Several years back - when the most widely available way to access the Internet was 56k modem and further back - almost all content is one-sided. That is to say from the content provider, and Internet user has little to do with the content. Now, we have a term of "social network", with the likes of "" (facebook or FB), "" (twitter) and many more, which expect more involvement from the Internet users - us, if you prefer. This, I believe, is called Web 2.0.

One popular service is twitter. Signing up is easy (I forgot where did I got this line). You need to provide a valid e-mail (for verification use, and notifications later). You can pick any user name as long as it has not been chosen, and you are required to create a password that only you can use the account. After the verification process, you can start posting. The post is officially called 'tweet', and all update must stay under 140 characters. I heard that this limitation was deliberately applied because twitter was originally designed to be used by text message/SMS - which is limited to 160 character per page itself.

Who will read it? By default, it will be read by everyone, or more specifically, everyone who is reading 'public timeline' at that time. "What in the world is timeline" I can hear you questioning. 'Timeline' can be defined as the list of tweets on twitter. In real-time. There is another term, 'home timeline', which roughly defined as list of tweets of people you 'follow'.

"Wait. You follow what? People?"

Yes, dear. The term 'following' is most easily related to subscribing. You subscribe to other persons updates (tweets, remember?). You can directly follow people who let their update be public, or you may need consent from the owner of the 'protected account' (symbolised by padlock). Either way, if you see their tweet on your 'home timeline', then you have successfully follow that soul.

"Shouldn't that other user follow me, too?"

No, silly. This is one distinction twitter has in comparison to other soc-net sites, e.g facebook. In most other sites, mutual agreement must be reached that one can follow/"befriend" other. Twitter doesn't require it. At all. You just have to click on [follow] button on that user page (usually If that user or other user sees your tweets as "follow-worthy', they will follow you anyway (and pro'lly they're your friends anyway. Ha ha!). If you, at some point find some people's update are offensive, or annoys you beyond limit, unfollowing is also as easy. The [follow] button on that user twitter page will turn into [unfollow] once you have that person followed. You just need to click it, and that person's tweets will never show up on your home timeline.

"Now I have follow some persons, what's next?"

You can still post tweet after tweet if you like, but if you at some moment see an interesting tweet from one you follow, you can post reply to their tweet. The reply link is located on bottom-right of the aforementioned tweet. Click it and you will be taken to top of the page to the field you can fill to tweet. Instead of empty box, you can now see @user already typed. You can begin typing after that "@user ". For example (no quote marks, for sure): "@user yeah, I think that movie rocks, too!". That user will see the reply on their timeline (if that user follows you) or see the reply on his '@user' page. You have yours, too. Check it out sometimes. It's on the right side of the page.

Aside of replying to a certain tweet, you can also 'mention' other user. For example, you tweet "I have a wonderful day, thanks to @user" although this is not a rigid rule. The mention comes when you hand-written the "@user" part. So no matter where you put the "@" symbol. The user will still be informed anyway.


Okay. Let us proceed to a somehow sensitive part in twitter jungle. A function called "ReTweet", or "RT" in short. This can be analogued to Forward or "FW" in e-mail realm. You can see that the act of forwarding is a no-brainer. You forward an interesting (or important) mail to other people, put some comment line on or under it, but NO. You don't chat by forwarding. The same goes to RT. You pass important (or interesting) information by re-tweet-ing that tweet, add some info or comment if you wish, but you don't chat/reply to that tweet message.

You can either retype (or rather, copy and paste) a tweet so it'll look like: "RT @user Hey Timbuktu! Are you ready to rock?!" or some 3rd party client has the ability to do it for you, one click away. You can put your comment either before or after the tweet you are re-tweet-ing.

"So it's that easy, how come that become a sensitive issue in twitter world?"

It's because some get lost and confused with RT. They think (or rather, see) RT as Reply To. As I mentioned earlier. RT = Fw. When you could simply click "reply" (and get the conversation tracked better), why do you flood the timeline with RT as Reply To? Here are two example:

"Ha ha! That's not funny! RT @user0: how many lawyers does it take to change a light bulb? None. Lawyers only screw people."

"I'll meet you at Times Square RT @user0: where shd I meet u? RT @user1: Off I go. RT @user0: Nine o'clock, rite?"

The first is sample of a better use of RT. User1 add comment to user0's tweet, and wants to share it to public. The latter is, well, a mess to say the least. Human in most countries read left to right, but yet in the second example, you must read RTL to see the coherence in that message. Phew, that's confusing.

Imagine if you have your timeline that way, some unknown people (probably they're your friends' friends) talking things you don't understand even a little bit. That can be annoying, and many good information or data or whatever might lost among those failed use of RT. Please, use it wisely.


Another basic feature in twitter is favourite (fav). Basic it might be, but I don't know many persons use this feature. With RT, you can spread an info about - say - a fire in your neighbourhood at instant. One downside of this is that it'll be lost within hours. You tweet things, people you follow tweet things, some poor tweeter failed to use RT wisely, and your tweet will be lost. With fav, you can mark one's tweet as "Favourite", and twitter will save it for you. To read later, or to RT later, or whatever, it's yours to decide. This' especially good if you're tweeting on the go. The fav-ed tweet will be saved and can be viewed later through "Favourite" link on the right-hand bar. It'll never lost, unless twitter do messy things.

So. That's that. All I can write at the meantime. I hope this helps.
Feel free to object, comment, or tell your friends. Thank you for reading. I'm glad to have you.

Happy tweeting!

written 'til 3. Jul 2010

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