Do you give a tweet about Twitter?

 What is Twitter?

While keeping an open mind, I'm not yet sold on this form of new media.

But Clive Thompson had a great NYTM article on the subject a while back.

This is the paradox of ambient awareness. Each little update — each individual bit of social information — is insignificant on its own, even supremely mundane. But taken together, over time, the little snippets coalesce into a surprisingly sophisticated portrait of your friends’ and family members’ lives, like thousands of dots making a pointillist painting. This was never before possible, because in the real world, no friend would bother to call you up and detail the sandwiches she was eating. The ambient information becomes like “a type of E.S.P.,” as Haley described it to me, an invisible dimension floating over everyday life.

And as Marion Davis writes, it's catching on locally:

Seemingly out of nowhere, Twitter — the Web/mobile social networking tool — has taken hold in Rhode Island. It happened just in the last few months, but it's growing fast now.

Last week, Providence Geeks co-founder Jack Templin (@jacktemplin), who's stepped up his own Twitter usage in 2009, called for a "sound-off" on the RI Nexus blog to find other local users. Within hours, dozens responded; within two days, there were more than 100. Everyone started connecting.

Michelle Girasole (@sassymichelle), owner of the Sassy Ladies, a startup that helps women boost their business skills and network, quickly identified prospects and introduced herself via Twitter. It was "like the ultimate speed-networking event," she says.

Chris Hempel (@hempstyle), a graphic designer and Web developer, added about 25 users to his "follow" list and got a slew of new followers himself, including local college professors and entrepreneurs.

Templin was amazed by the response and by the exchanges. "It was like this whole parallel conversation going on," he says. The best part, he adds, is that it can easily move to face-to-face. In fact, Twitter is widely used to invite people to gatherings.

One avid local user is Saul Kaplan (@skap5), founder of the Business Innovation Factory and former state economic development director, who's good for about 20 "tweets" a day — from a link to a news article about the element boron, to the case for nationwide broadband wireless, to a note on being interviewed for this story: "Reporter said I was a heavy user. What has happened to me!"

"It's a very powerful tool if you have a clear point of view that you want to share," Kaplan says, especially if you want feedback to develop your ideas. Plus it's a "really great way" to extend your connections — he's following more than 1000 people and has more than 1000 followers himself, locally and around the world.

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