What is Twitter?

No, the answer is not 42. Though if it was as simple as that, life would be much better.

Anyway, this post is for all those of my contemporaries out there who don’t know what Twitter is / don’t know how to use Twitter / can’t understand what the hell they’re doing on Twitter / cannot appreciate Twitter.

I thought I’d do all of you / us a favour and make this a Q/A post. I will be as denigrating as I want to because people do not understand what kind of a phenomenon Twitter really is.

 

Q: What is Twitter?

A: Twitter is defined as a microblogging service. A blog is where you post something (like this). A microblog is for status updates. The reason you use Twitter are three-fold:

1) You update your status so that people who follow you can know what’s going on with you.

2) You follow your friends and see their status updates to see what’s up with them.

3) You follow news websites, celebrities and the like to keep up with their news.

 

Q: So, what’s the big deal? I can do all that in Facebook as well.

A: Twitter is a revolution. It is utterly different from Facebook. While Facebook is filled with spammers and trolls, Twitter is filled either with intellectuals (like myself 😛 ) or with spam bots who can be blocked with one click.

Also, Twitter noticeably lacks “apps” which make enough spam content on Facebook to irritate some 700 million users. Twitter is pitched as a simple microblogging platform and that is all it ever is / ever should be.

Besides, following news on Twitter and Facebook are 2 different things. There are 2 reasons for this:

1) Companies and organisations that give news content online do it mostly on Twitter. Facebook is just their auxiliary option. The fact that they can post on Twitter in small 140 character updates, have their own timeline where they can look back on the updates without the hindrances of such nuances as “comments” or “likes” appeals to them.

2) Twitter has the cleanest interface that you can think of. Now, there are 2 ways to follow news .. either you add everyone who is tweeting news about something to your timeline, or all the users create a hashtag and you search for that hashtag and follow all the tweets there.

Example: Say an earthquake occurs in Atlantis, one user will create a hastag like #atlantisquake .. The power of social media will propagate this hashtag in such a way that within 5 minutes, well over a thousand users will be using that hashtag. Now, lets say there are people on site in Atlantis tweeting about it, people offsite who have relatives stuck there asking for help, people on site asking for help etc – you can see ALL of these things if you are searching for that hashtag. Yes, its that simple.

 

Q: Ok, that’s too advanced for me to comprehend. Why would these things help me? I just want to keep up with my friends and check what photos they upload.

A: Oh ok fine. Then, please go back to Facebook. Twitter is not for you.

 

Q: Fine. Let’s say I’m interested. What else can Twitter do?

A: Not much else. This is what people love Twitter for. The people working on it are wise enough to know what the users like and they don’t want to do mundane optimisations which will spoil the user experience.

 

Q: Hmm .. What about media content? Like photos and videos and all that?

A: This is the most opportune moment I can answer this. Twitter recently released a photo uploading service. Its is the most complete image search engine anyone can hope for assuming people tag the pictures they upload with the proper tags.

 

Q: Wtf? Didn’t Twitter have any way of viewing photos before this?

A: They did. You uploaded photos in another service like Twitpic, yfrog etc. and posted a link along with a small one liner on Twitter. Using hashtags helped in searches.

 

Q: Ok fine. Any down sides?

A: Oh yes. As with all “social” media, this is powered by the people. You have to be responsible about what you post, what you share etc.

For example, some fool made a mistake and posted that Abdul Kalam died even though it was just his friend who’d died. It spread like wildfire (as is its wont) and finally, at the stage where even news websites started believing it, it died down. So, it’s on your part to be a responsible netizen and do what’s right.

 

Q: How do I join Twitter?

A: Head over here and create an account. That’s it. You’re done. You can start using Twitter right away.

 

Please spread the joy and make people aware. Also, in case any of your friends pesters you as to what Twitter is, direct them here 🙂

PS: Any questions? I’m sorry .. You gotta go Google. There is only so much time I’m willing to spare in making people Internet-aware. Comments? Post below.

I know What I did This Summer

So, nothing great here. Another summer has come. Another of my birthdays has come and gone. Oh, I’m 20 btw. Yes, I still don’t give a damn.

What did I do this summer? (The title of the post is a play on a famous horror movie title)

All the people I know have been working their ass off trying to get internships. I will not scorn at them (well, not at first anyway 😀 ) because I tried. In the course of trying, I realised 2 things – 1) You really need to have contacts to get into these internships. I have none. 2) They definitely aren’t worth it. I mean, yeah you get stipend and work experience (neither of which I care about). I care about getting to know things. I’ve heard they teach you about the work in the company. But I dunno .. starting to go to work daily .. I’d feel too grown up to believe it 😛

I now believe in keeping my summer free. I have only one more summer to go but I don’t care if I keep saying that 😀 .. So this summer, I kept it as free as possible, apart from CAT preparation, a hellish project and some other small stuff, I have nothing to do.

So I started the summer with some coding. There was this Huffman code I wanted to do badly. I finished it on my birthday (June 2nd) after some 4 hours of coding (spread over 20 days or so). I still have the decompression program to look forward to though.

The project is probably the best thing that happened last semester. Our project guide hardly remembers our faces. Each time we walk into his cabin to talk about the project, he gives a look of incredulity (wouldn’t you, if 6 full grown college students made their way into your private 9’ x 12’ space without no explanation whatever? 😀 ). Anyway, we remind him we are his project team for the year. Then, he talks with his “trademark” style. If you plot his volume to the time of his monologue, it’d look something like this.

All units in SI (except dB for volume), graph not to scale

Its funny how all of us lean in to listen to him as he goes on and his volume keeps going down 😀 .. Anyway, his idea of a “starting” exercise was something too tough for us to dream of finishing. We accepted anyway. I mean .. What else could we do? 😐

Then, there is the facebook-ing which has become excessive thanks to utter boredom. I would like to clarify my stance on why I use facebook. It’s not to keep up with people. I couldn’t care less about who potty trained their dog or who got the Nobel recently. I’m more interested in seeing how society as such uses it. Its just a visual thing. I’m not plotting graphs or rolling around in statistical data. I just keep track of stuff that stands out in my memory.

Twitter .. Now THAT is something I cannot stay without. I’m basically an information junkie – as are most avid twitter users. I’d rather have a twitter account than subscribe to a newspaper or watch news channels on TV. My repeated appeals to everyone I know (through facebook statuses – shouldn’t it be statii btw? – class speeches, casual talk and what not) to join Twitter seems to be paying off. More and more people from my college are joining the site whereas my school people remain as ignorant as ever.

I love patterns though. And I saw some distinct patterns here:

1) People from ECE in my college have maximum presence on twitter (now, I was the first one there so I may be the starting point but we can never be sure)

2) People from my school have many different patterns depending on which college they joined:

2.1) People in Sastra hardly have a twitter presence. They’re more prominent on Facebook.

2.2) People from BITS, Goa have more of a presence than people from BITS, Pilani (well, from amongst my school friends, at least) .. BITS, Pilani people have limited presence on either site.

2.3) People from NITT have a strong presence on Twitter but they’re mostly unused accounts. From the Twitter stalking (yes, I’ve learned to stalk people on twitter as well) I have done, there are further 3 categories of people here:

2.3.1) People who join Twitter and use it avidly like @anirudh24seven

2.3.2) People who join Twitter and then never come back to the site again

2.3.3) People who join Twitter and never really post anything but follow news. This set can be identified by their limited number of tweets but very large number of “following”.

2.4) Random people have a mixed presence on Twitter which I can’t really split into patterns since i don’t know how the rest of their college is on these sites.

3) People from my old school have a very weak Twitter presence (almost negligible except for @anirudhpullela ) But that is understandable considering they never were nerd in the first place.

4) People I know from elsewhere (IIT Tuitions, Tennis Classes and the rest) have no twitter presence at all or I haven’t found them yet (an exception here is @shreeranjani who has a greater twitter presence than I do)

Now that my pattern appetite is sated, let’s move on.

I finally jailbroke the iPod Touch. Brilliant shit after jailbreaking. I installed some repositories like Hackulo.us and Crackulo.us .. Got some really cool cracked apps from those. The best though is VLC media player. It does not require us to do ANY conversion of the video file. Simply load them on the pod, click play and it’ll resize the file to your screen size. Epic, right?

Mom bought a cheap Nokia phone which looks surprisingly awesome. Uncluttered Symbian OS .. a refreshing change from Symbian^3 and the later versions. Problem is it requires a micro USB cable and I don’t have one. Have to load all the songs through bluetooth :/

Birthday was a quiet affair – just as I like it. Dinner with family. Small cake. Refused to meet friends citing dinner. Meh. They more or less knew I wouldn’t come. I’m 20. I don’t have an internship. I don’t know much about Communications even though I’m due to major in it in a years time. I practically hate talking to people and don’t pick up people’s calls because I don’t feel like talking to them. Yep, I still don’t give a damn 😀

CAT mock test came up. Scored somewhere near the 50s. Should be enough considering I haven’t studied a word for CAT till now.

I’m hoping to get a hard disk. I badly need one. I have too many pictures, videos and music on my laptop. That apart from all the game installations. I need to free up space and install linux both as a backup and to aid me in programming pursuits. I have some cracking packages I can’t wait to try out.

I’m reading Nine Lives by William Dalrymple for want of anything better to do. The computer has become boring. The PS3 is boring. The Android is boring. The iPod is boring. It is hot. I don’t feel like going out. Sometimes, I hate holidays. But then, since these are probably the last I’ll ever have, I might as well enjoy them.