What Twitter Means To Me

I get asked sometimes what Twitter is.  I know, it's a little hard to imagine, but it happens.  Sometomes people know what it DOES but the big question is WHY do I use it?

So what is Twitter to me?

1. Twitter is a marketplace of ideas

On Twitter, ideas that resonate with people get passed around.  Ideas that don't, die a short painless death in the abyss of the 5,000 tweets / second public timeline.  You can see this by looking at any number of sites that will help you see which tweets get re-tweeted.  You can also see this be looking at trending results (but that's a whole different story...)

2. Twitter is an incubator

Incubators are normally thought of as predefined structures like academic institutions, research laboratories or specialized groups dedicate to the task of evaluating ideas, applying a selection process to them, nurturing them through growth phases and seeing what flourishes.  I think the Twitter Incubator breaks that mold.

For example, two of the things I'm working on right now are direct results of tweets I've seen from the people I follow.  I saw a need and thought of a way to fill it.  Direct market research with help from people who didn't even know they were taking part.  The early discussions about these ideas took place in public, on Twitter, and chime in with their own ideas.  In both cases, my eventual co-founder was part of that discussion.

Even tonight, a discussion of backnoise.com resulting from the recent New Media Atlanta conference led to a discussion of what could be done to improve the system.  People suggested what they saw as its weakest points and ways to address them.  I suggested that people be required to sign in to backnoise.com via OAuth with their twitter / facebook or openid account.  Their comments could still be anonymous but they can be banned effectively or suspended.  That idea made it out into the marketplace of ideas where it could be evaluated on its own merits.

So what does Twitter mean to you?

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