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Posts Tagged ‘Student Life’

twitter_logoIt’s tricky to start an article on Twitter. Not a lot of people (read: not enough) know what it’s about, but almost everyone has heard of it. Even my parents have heard of it. So I’m now going to try and explain this Internet phenomenon.

Twitter is a social-networking service, which lumps it into the same catagory as facebook, MySpace, last.fm and sites like del.i.cious. Whereas facebook and MySpace are bloated with all sorts of cool things like applications that make sure you’re awesome, and MySpace is a great tool for musicians to get exposure, Twitter has taken all of that and stripped it down into byte-sized chunks (called ‘tweets’) of no more than 140 characters.

I’m going to attempt to explain the functionality and use of Twitter by comparing it to facebook. Imagine that you strip facebook down so that you can do nothing more than update your status. Essentially, in it’s very simplest form, this is what Twitter is all about. “But I already have facebook!” I hear you shout, “why would I want to update my status twice?” Well Twitter has a hell of lot more features than that:

The Twitter Home Page

The Twitter Home Page

Now with a bit of imagination, the visual similarity with facebook can be seen. However, Twitter has taken a different view to facebook with regards to ‘friends’ (I use this term loosely with sites like facebook). Instead of the usual facebook and MySpace approach of requiring a two-way ‘friendship’ (You know, send a friend request, person confirms, they can see your status updates, and you can see theirs), Twitter has has split this concept in two.

Instead of becoming someone’s friend, you choose to follow them. What this means is that their updates will now show up on your Twitter feed (the white area with all the updates above). Following someone is instant. No waiting for a confirmation, nothing. The person you choose to follow is sent an email to let them know that you’re following them, and whether or not theychoose to follow you back is completely up to them. This is one of the beauties of Twitter, as it means you can follow celebrities, companies, coffee shops, etc. Also, if someone starts following you, you have no duty to follow them in return. In the screenshot, above right, you can see that I follow 52 people, and 80 people follow me.

The idea behind Twitter is that you use it on the go, posting little updates on what you are doing as you go through the day. Twitter was made for mobility. Because the tweets (the updates) are limited to only 140 characters, they are smaller than an sms, and so very cellphone friendly in terms of bandwidth. I did a little experiment to prove this. I’ve been using Twitter on my cellphone for about 5 days, without accessing any other websites off my phone. I’ve only used 4MB in that period. This makes twitter much cheaper than facebook. I tweet (send updates) all through the day, and even use it as an alternative to sms with the friends like MusicLady, who is as hot for Twitter as I am.

Directing a tweet at someone is also easy, by just adding a ‘@’ in front of their username.

Lastly is the powerful search funtion that twitter has:

The Twitter Search Engine - http://search.twitter.com

The Twitter Search Engine - http://search.twitter.com

By tagging your tweets with a ‘hash tag,’ like for example #stelexams in the screenshot above, you can search ALL tweets on the whole of Twitter with this specific tag. I started #stelexams to keep track of what’s happening with people that are tweeting about the Stellenbosch exams. The power of this function was shown on 22 April, election day, by those tagging their tweets with #saelections. This provided a real-time view of what queues were like, where stations were running into problems and so on. This ‘news from the front line’ is faster than any form of media, and is in my opinion, Twitter’s strongest feature.

There are some great people that you can follow on Twitter. Cafe Bello has a twitter account, as does Vida e Caffe, not to mention celebs such as Stephen Fry. Another account worth following is Stellenbosch Student Life, which in a similar vein to the CapeTown account, exists to inform people in Stellenbosch of what’s happening in town via Twitter.

I hope you have found this helpful. Twitter is the future, just no one seems to realise it. The best way to get to grips with Twitter is just to register and use it. It’s fun. It really is.

To follow me on Twitter, click here.

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Idols is dead. If it isn’t, it should have been killed a long time ago. Srsly. So imagine the shock and horror when I noticed for the first time the horror that is the following:

Kids, we are fucked.

Kids, we are fucked.

I’ve lived in res. Near the shower. And as much as most res-dwellers believe they can sing Hinder’s “Lips of an Angel’ in perfect key in the shower, they can’t. Trust me. I used it as a trusty alarm clock without fail for about a month. And despite this university’s fine history of sêr and even the fact that Heinz Winckler, South Africa’s first Idols winner, was a Matie, here is my prediction: We. Are. Screwed.

Res kids are about to climb out of the shower.

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