Twitter is a free micro-blogging service where users post and read brief messages called tweets. A tweet has a maximum length of 140 characters and is displayed on the author’s page, but it is also delivered to subscribers. Subscribers are known as followers, the owner of a Twitter account is able to restrict who follows their tweets. If you chose to follow someone’s tweets within Twitter these will appear on your homepage of your Twitter account, however you can also subscribe without having a Twitter account. Users that do not have a Twitter account are able to subscribe to your tweet feed using RSS (Real Simple Syndication) – in the same way you would subscribe to a University of Otago podcast.
Twitter has been around since 2006 when it was dreamed up by the board members Odeo – a podcasting company. You are able to tweet from not only the Twitter website, but also external applications (i.e. iPhone Aps), SMS (Short Message Service – mobile phone texting) as well as having an external RSS feed create tweets automatically using services such as Twitterfeed. Other external applications allow you to show your tweets within other services i.e. the left side bar of the eLearning blog has a Twitter block, which is populated automatically with tweets.
Visit the Twitter website if you’re interested in getting a Twitter account or just having a look at what it is all about. Here are some university related tweeters: