Explore the Hottest Thing Online Now: Twitter

What is it?
Twitter is the Internet’s live conversation network that lets you tap into what is going on right now. Watching Obama’s speech on TV? Hop on to Twitter, search for #obama and you will see minute-by-minute comments synchronized to the broadcast (assuming it’s not delayed in Hawaii) right before your very eyes.  You can “tune in” to #hawaii and read about folks all over the world dreaming their next vacation.  Don’t know what’s hot? Go to twitscoop.com and find the current buzz which as of this writing seems to be “bailout” and “defense”.

Look at my desktop:  It's covered with Twitter!

Follow the celebs
But twitter is not just about following topics. You can follow people. Celebrities like Ashton Kutcher is online and so is Demi Moore who sometimes tweets several times during the day.  And of course, it wouldn’t be the Internet if you couldn’t follow its self-proclaimed inventor Al Gore.

Get your news
What about news? Well there’s CNN, KGMB9 and local media personalities like Dave Shapiro and Erika Engle. Most of the other local news organizations are online too, just do a search for your favorites.

Who’s hot in Hawaii?
And of course we would have never found out about Twitter if it weren’t for those local geek pioneers like Ryan Ozawa and Burt Lum who got us all thinking about it.  Get the full list on who else is hot on twitter in Honolulu along with your humble Computer Minute guy who probably tweets a tad more than he should.

Where is this going?
But this is just the beginning. Web sites like StockTwits.com have connected tweets and stock symbols to let investors connect with each other to share up to the minute stock market transactions.  People are using Twitter to quickly organize themselves and groups like #tcot (Top Conservatives on Twitter) and #teaparty (Organizers of a nationwide Chicago Tea Party) are giving us a glimpse into what this new platform can do.

OK, how do I get started?
First, get your free Twitter account setup. You can connect it to your mobile phone so that you can tweet via text messaging. I would suggest you turn off mobile updates unless you want tons of tweets coming over as text messages.   Next, start following people you like. Search for them, visit their twitter pages, and if you like what you see, follow them. Then, start tweeting!  What should you tweet? I suggest you start by sharing what you’re currently doing, especially if you think others will be interested. Did you find a cool story you want to share? Tweet it and give us the link. Did a particularly interesting insight pop into your head? We want to know! Pay attention to what others are tweeting, jump in, and find your voice.  Over time, you’ll settle into a comfortable routine. Soon, you’ll be hooked!

Twitter applications you should install
Once you’ve gotten the feel for how Twitter works (and you’re refreshed your Twitter page hundreds of times) it’s time to install some free applications that make it a breeze to follow what’s going on in Twitterspace.  TweetDeck.com is one of the top applications now and runs both on Mac and Windows platforms. It lets you track multiple conversations and allows the creation of specialized groups.  Twhirl.com is a lighter application that you can try if TweetDeck is too much.  If your phone can take pictures, setup an account on TwitPic.com and you can email your photos to all your friends.  Go straight to the Twitter wiki and learn the difference between a tweep and a tweetup.

Twitter is for real
I remember when I first signed on to Twitter a year ago. I spent about 5 minutes and said, “This is the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen. What’s the point?”  Today, I’m not too proud to say that I’ve had to eat my Tweets. I get it. Twitter is hot. I use it more than any other application throughout the day. So come on in. The “twatter’s” fine. Follow me @peterkay and we’ll explore this new platform together.