Historians will look back at the evolution of mankind and will soon come back with a division that has a chunk of history – pre-Twitter and the world as we know it today Twitter-topia.
I consider myself a techno-phile and I can’t wait to get cracking the latest new technology built to make life more easier or interesting. Yet, as Twitter evolved around me, I adamantly refused to give in. In doing that, I grew to loathe all things Twitter. But ignore it as I might, it kept popping up everywhere. Eventually, I caved and I decided I would give it a go.
It turns out that my reaction to Twitter is quite normal. Everyone is either obsessed with it or hates the very byte-code fabric that make it work. These are people who are on Twitter and not on Twitter … respectively.
So if you are in the second category waiting to jump ship to the Twitter bandwagon, let’s get stated.
What is Twitter?
It is a social networking website / program. You basically keep telling the world the answer to one simple question in 140 characters or less – “What are you doing?”
Broadly – yes. Specifically – yes.
And this is great, why?
Red Pill / Blue Pill?
Red please, and fries.
Log on to Twitter.com. Don’t expect any fancy reading. Click the big Green button in the middle of the page.
This takes you to the login page. Enter your name, handle (what the Twitter world will see you as, pick something short and sweet), password, email and botcheck. Click create.
If everything is okay, Twitter will take you through a few more steps to find all your other friends already on Twitter. I really recommend that you do this right now, so you’ll have someone to read up on as soon as you get in.
That’s it. The whole process should have taken you about 5 minutes from start to finish. Now your next question is surely going to be ..
Chances are that you found someone on Twitter and you should be seeing their updates at least. The page that you are seeing this updates is your homepage. Your URL should read http://twitter.com/<your handle>. Click on the pic to open a new page and I’ll try and take you through the important parts of this page.
1. This textbox is where you answer the all-pervasive question. Write whatever you want here and press update. If you have used Facebook before, this is a no-brainer.
2. This just lets you know that there is a 140 character limit and decreases for every character you type in.
3. Your last updated message will show here.
4. Following – how many people are you currently following (your icons, crushes, friends, ex-s, whatever). Followers – how many people are stalking you (your fan following) . Updates – how many updates have you posted since you came to life on Twitter.
5. The timeline. Here you can see who posted what and when. Yes, your tweets also show up here so it’s easy to maintain flow.
Try posting something. “Hello world” may not really draw attention. “I just would like to say 2 things – I’m new to Twitter and I’m gay” – will surely get you a lot more attention from your followers.
So anything I say ..?
Yes. Anything you say is recorded and filed away to glory. So do think twice before you press update. There is a way however to talk to some without getting into the global domain. This called D (see below), the twitter equivalent of the PM in common chat interfaces.
If I’m using Twitter, am I tweeting twit?
The lingo is getting established, but the basics are pretty easy. Here are some of the more important commands and phrases.
Generally, your status messages will be addressed to no one in particular. But sometimes you would like to respond to someone in particular. While noobs prefer to use the @ tag at the beginning of their message there is no need to do so. Just imagine you were chatting with the person, and where you would say his/her name, say “@username”. Sample this:-
ajitloin:- I think I should chop of Mona’s hands.
monadlng:-But why @ajithloin
ajitloin:- Well @monadlng your typing sucks. I’m hoping to improve your shorthand.
RT username: ReTweet
This is the equivalent of the Forward that we use in emails. People usually RT when they come across a tweet for someone else that they feel their followers would like to read. It is good manners to give credit to the original poster of the tweet. Look at this tweet from robert below
robert:- Guys I think we’re going to be a little shorthanded 🙂 RT ajitloin Well @monadlng your typing sucks. I’m hoping to improve your shorthand.
robert:- RT ajitloin Well @monadlng your typing sucks. I’m hoping to improve your shorthand.
This is something that you heard somewhere and feel like sharing with your world
robert:- OH “I hope I marry a historian. The more old I grow, the more interested he gets.”
#something:- Hash:- If you enter a #something, it means you are categorizing your tweet. For example,
robert:- Waiting for my boss to get here. Can’t hold up this bank all by myself. #BankJob
ajitloin:- Why do I get this vague feeling I should be somewhere else and not having my back massaged by mona in Hawaii?
monadlng:- @robert, you’re screwed. #Bankjob
You can read about the latest happenings that people are tweeting about all over the world by going to http://hashtags.org/
D someone:- Direct –
This is when you want to tweet someone without anyone being able to read what you’ve written. For eg:-
robert:- D monadlng See you outside in 10?
monadlng:- D robert can’t hardly wait.
How can I update my Twitter Status?
Simple question. But that has innumerable answers. Let’s try:-
a. Through the web:- Simplest method. Log in to your page at twitter.com. Type. Click update.
b. Through your browser:- This lets you update from within your browser. Have a look at Twitterfox. I picked it up from @pigtale who uses it. Check out “6” in the picture above.
c. Through your phone via SMS/text :- This is something that I think is great. Unfortunately, I can’t get updates on my phone. For a full list on how you can use Twitter through texting, click here.
d. Through a program in your phone:- I am currently using Twibble for my mobile. Do a google search and you can find a 100 more applications.
Got anything else for me?
– Twitter does not have business-plan. This has been admitted by Biz and Evan, founders of Twitter. Read more here
– There is a privacy setting in your options menu, which means that only your followers can read your tweets. Leave it off and the whole world can read what you tweet. Take your pic.
– The smaller the URL the better. When you use Twitter from the homepage, your big URLs are automatically compressed into a tiny url. You can use
– Twitpic lets you share photos on Twitter.
– You can delete only your earlier tweets. Hover over your earlier tweet and you can see a trash can. Click it and poof!
– You can favorite tweets that you like, or would like to read later. Hover and click the Star.
– There are some really famous people on Twitter. Britney Spears, Lance Armstrong, Hillary Clinton, Gov. Arnie and more global celebrities , Shashi Taroor, Cyrus Broacha, Aamir Khan, Gul Panag and more Indians.
Brent Ozar explains in a lot of detail on the basics of tweeting. The topics are the same, but this is a good read after you have read this post as it gives you some more perspective here