Friday, February 6, 2009

I Tweet, ThereFore I Am (Twitter)

@tangomega has been a member of Twitter since 2008-12-12 00:00:00 and has Tweeted 267 times since then. @tangomega follows 178 friends, tweets from Jacksonville. FL (in Time Zone "Eastern Time (US & Canada)") and has a homepage, website or blog at
"The Keep-It-Real RedPill Souljah out of Zion."

In December I was watching Scobelizer on Fast Company TV and he did an interview with Guy Kawasaki. I won' t make you click the link to find out who he is, the thing that non-tech people will recognize is that he was one of the people who help bring the Macintosh to the masses back in 1984. He's well-respected and also the author of a few books, like The Art of the Start (2004) which actually got rave reviews from my brother Tza. Those of you that know Tza know he isn't a guy prone to raving. Actually, he's the exact opposite of a 'raver'. So I'm watching this interview, and Guy says something that immediately gets me interested: He would give up his cellphone before he'd give up Twitter. That's an impressive statement in this day and age, a service that someone thinks is more valuable than the devices that most of us are attached to day and night, without fail. Guy described Twitter as a “weapon”. So I decided to sign up and see what the fuss was about.

I have to be honest, I didn't immediately see what the attraction was. Twitter is considered a 'micro-blogging' site. It only allows you to enter 140 characters, or the equivalent of a text message. The reason for this is you can communicate and update your Twitter account through your cellphone or mobile device. Through options on the site, you can follow other people's 'tweets' on your phone if you so desire, and those who have a Blackberry or an iPhone have apps available that make tweeting easy. It was tough to see how this was going to be useful... one of the first problems I encountered was how to find people on Twitter. You can import an addressbook and it will look for your friends on the site, but primarily you have to find others from the 'timeline', which is all the public feeds on Twitter, or browse the followers of your followers

So the first friend I followed was my homie IkeDiggety (who is embroiled in a fight with Verizon because apparently he can't get Twitter to work with it), and then I got Tza to take the plunge. The two of them started kicking it back and forth about Abelton, Cubase, production talk... okay, this is starting off okay. I think I like this.

But I don't want to resort to just stalking my brother and friend, I want to find out who else is out there. I lucked up on Jean Grae, a gifted emcee who I felt like was on the verge is tweeting as she works on her current project, and her tweets are of a more personal but very amusing nature. Through Jean, I really started to make some interesting connections. Wanna know who is stupidly popular on the site? Tweets all the time? None other than the new Cash4Gold spokesman MC Hammer. He was nice enough to use TwitPic to send us live photos inside the stadium of his seats. Hammer apparently ain't doing too bad. Then there's Rhymefest, one of my favorite emcees who's about to drop “El Che”, his 2nd studio album (he did a free mixtape/tribute album to Michael Jackson called “Man In The Mirror”.. don't laugh, it's genius) and is the host of his own Twitter “Game Show” called VS, which Is just him polling his followers on everything from Best TV Show Theme Song (“Welcome Back Kotter” vs “Good Times”) to historical figures or groups (Black Panther Party vs Nation Of Islam). Rhymefest seems to understand the mechanics of Twitter and moving between MySpace and Twitter is providing him a connection to his current and potential fans. Then there's ?uestlove from The Roots, Xzibit, Talib Kweli, Warren G, and even the Doggfather himself, Snoop Dee Oh Double Jizzle.

I meantion the Hiphop artists first, but I mention them because I want to highlight the contrast to the other things I get out of Twitter. One of my earliest feeds and uses for Twitter was to be a part of CNN's Rick Sanchez's discussion when he's on the air. Then I found Anderson Cooper and Don Lemon. That put me in touch with a very politically-active online community who have really taken this service, this tool, this weapon and used it to their advantage. The most popular Tweeter? Mista Presidential Himself, BHM, Barack Hussein Obama. I'm not going to bother to link it, if you want it, you know where to find it by now. They actually haven't updated it since he got elected. Then there's the tech segment. I found Veronica Belmont on Twitter first, then watched her internet show Teckzilla and was absolutely HOOKED. For anybody who has a technical question about computers, no matter how complicated or simple it might be, this is the girl to ask. Her tweets about Windows 7 running on her Micro1000 are funny. She's a geek through and through, and I mean that as the highest compliment, one geek to another. My Top Friend Homie BloggerGirl eL is also on there, and has been on Twitter for awhile but I think she's like me, she's figuring out where it fits and how best to use it. She's got 3 times the number of followers I have... but I'm not jealous, noooooo... Why am I mentioning it? Cuz I can! Kidding, kidding...

The people who most push Twitter are the social network 'experts'. I put that in quotes because there are some who know, and some who act like they know, but that's with anything. You can stick anything you want in your bio, but when you're making moves, it's obvious... you don't have to tell people. There are some, however, that I have been exposed to in some intimate settings. One of my favorite people is Brother Jawar, who I met and sat in on his panel discussion at the Jax Music Conference. I wasn't the least bit surprised when I found him, because Twitter totally fits into his way of hustling. He's been on Twitter since May of last year and has passed the 1000 mark in followers. That's actually quite impressive, because Twitter is not MySpace. No whoring over there. You gain followers over there with tweets, not tits. MySpace is all about eye-candy. Twitter is.. well, it's hard to say. You really need to work Twitter towards what you are doing. MySpace is a blunt instrument, you can hand it to any idiot and he'd figure out what to do with it. I'd have to consider Twitter a surgical tool. You can kill with it, yes... but a surgeon could take out your heart with it, intact. There's a DJ that I follow on Twitter in NY, he tweeted an opportunity to come out to one of his shows to his followers, and believe me, people were on it. It's an immediate connection to MDAs and desktops all over, and it's not as labor-intensive as MySpace can be. It's not a replacement, though... I look at it as an enhancement. I'm not using it on my phone right now because I'm trying to jump to another service, but when I do, I'm going to make sure I can access Twitter (can you hear me now, Ike? Damn. So guess Verizon is out for now...)... Two more of my favorite tweeters? Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore. Seriously. Last week Ashton was talking about the Michael Phelps controversy (blog to come) and came out in defense of him. I thought that was very kewl. Imagine my surprise when Ashton's tweets were suddenly newsworthy?! Demi thinks Twitter is a 'threat' to some news agencies because it cuts out the middleman and is a direct interaction with your fans. As I write this, I think maybe I'm oversimplifying the power of Twitter, because Facebook can let you interact, and so can MySpace, but the Twitter experience is streamlined... minimized. Kinda like some Dre beats. There's only a kick, a snare, a little highhat, bassline and some orchestra stabs, but it's sicker than anything you could come up with if you had 20 instruments... because he understands the spaces between the notes. Twitter doesn't crowd the space between the users. Yeah, all text can get boring, but with TwitPic, you can post pictures to be viewed. You got Friendfeed to route people from Twitter to Facebook or MySpace or YouTube through urls, Twitter is... the space between the notes.

I think I'm going to consider this the first in a series of blogs about Twitter because I'm somewhat working it out myself as to what it could be or is morphing into. It's growing as we speak. There's nothing like it, but there are a number of 'trends' we can look to in the past to see where this is going. I can say that I had a unique SuperBowl experience of watching the game and tweeting with a lot of my friends about things happening, and I had no intention of watching the SuperBowl prior. They made it so fun, and being that the game went back and forth as it did, we got some really entertaining tweets out of each other. I've asked 'Fest questions directly and heard straight back from the horses mouth. I'll pass on any help/guidance that I can offer or get you pointed in the right direction.

In the interest of dramatic irony, as I finish this blog, I find out that Robert Scoble is now following ME on Twitter. How funny is that? The guy who brought me here, is now following me.

I'll start writing up the late passes for those of you still trying to get in front of the Game. Up Ya Game!!!

-ere'bodee's favorite mega, blogninja

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