What is the use of Twitter? What to do with Twitter?

I am a Facebook user for years, but I can’t figure out what I can do with Twitter. What is the use of Twitter? This is probably the question most frequently asked by our cyber-readers.
The two social networks, Twitter and Facebook, gain popularity almost at the same time, but apart this, they don’t have much in common, even the user “type” who uses them has different abilities and behaviors.
Facebook is a simple tool very intuitive that provides a space where the user can openly share his thoughts, post images, make remarks, a sort of personal diary based especially on the bond between people, on the personal network of friendships and relatives.
The Facebook user can daily organise his own space sharing his own “post-thoughts” often enriched with images, commenting the posts of his friends, playing, creating albums with photos of his holiday and so on…
Twitter is a social tool as simple as Facebook, characterized by great potentialities, but whose principles (rules) of use are not immediately deducible. First of all the space to share the “tweet-thoughts” is not unlimited; the user has 140 characters to express a concept, a rather significant limit, especially for the “type” user Facebook, used to think (and post) limitless.
What shall we propose in 140 characters??? Short comments, value judgments, aphorisms, but above all, suggestions and references to other contents present online.
A tweet example?
“I have found this fantastic BLOG that reports the latest of internet #internet #sociology
This tweet is of 113 characters (there are 27 left!!) and contains a suggestion, two hashtags or rather words that mark it (tag it) and the link to be selected for reading the mentioned blog.
Therefore on Twitter we can insert “simple sentences” direct and immediate or “suggestions” to look into somewhere else, but we cannot tell anything we rather underline, “we launch“, we provide a further reading, points to be consider or discussed.
Other important rules to keep in mind on Twitter:

  • Every tweet must be meaningful, it can’t be written a text of 1.400 characters in ten tweets one after another because it doesn’t make sense; nobody will read in sequence your tweets.
  • Avoid the Q&A, if you want to answer to a tweet use the function “reply“.
  • If you want to quote a certain user in the tweet, you can write his name adding the character ‘@ ‘ before it. The user will receive a notification and maybe he will participate in the debate. You may quote our @Mondo2puntozero only to practice your twitter use.
  • If you have just read a tweet that you like and you want to share it, you can do it through the action called “retweet“. The retweet brings the original source without modifying it in any way.
  • Twitter is a tremendously fast tool and only the most reactive and trendy users keep up with it.

What are the strong points of this “synthetic” social network? The first one is exactly the hashtag, if a tweet is tagged, through one or more words preceded by the character “#”, your message will be aggregated with all the other tweets that have the same tag and it will be read by all the users who are interested in that precise topic (suggested by that tag). Our example tweet will be proposed together with all the tweets that contain the term #sociology along with all the tweets that contain the term #internet. The users who look for inspiration in the sociological or technological area may track it down with a simple search.
The aggregative power of a hashtag is very strong; for example I can write a comment with the tag #xf8 and right away get aggregate with all the tweets devoted to the TV Show XFactor , the eighth edition. Some of the radio transmissions and TV programs have found in this tool a “bridge” toward internet, every user has a say and the best tweets are made public during the transmission or, if they are lucky, in some of the TV programs they appear at the bottom of the video screen.
Then, of course, overturning the principle, I can look for the hashtags present online and read the most recent “tweet-thoughts” of other users, browse dynamic lists, always updated by suggestions on the matter; for instance regarding my favorite musical band (let’s say #queen) or my favorite football team or the current final (for instance #JuveLazio see the following image), or the gossip scandal of the moment, or the political reform under discussion in parliament and so on…
Twitter provides also a funny service, a sort of Hit of the most used tags of the last period, always up-to-date and available also per places, allowing us to participate in the most trendy, popular or “of the moment” debates. The service is visible on our twitter space, on the box “trends” as well as callable online as TwitterTrends (here also in mobile version).
Twitter allows us therefore to follow the latest trends, dynamically aggregated through the hashtags. Each of us can follow, on twitter, debates on topics of interest or just debates on trendy terms.

twitter_trendsAs a matter of fact, Facebook provides the possibility to insert hashtags into the text as well as to find them, but the application by users is until now very limited, also because the Facebook user likes above all to tell about himself and share everything with his friends, there is often a bond between the “posts”, while the aggregation for tag is extremely casual and extemporaneous, often functional with the current fashion.
What about our friends? With Twitter the plot of friendships is less determining comparing to Facebook, maybe for the characteristics listed before or rather for the shortness of the exchanged messages as well as the possibility that these ones may end up aggregated on many lists on the bases of the tags presence.
You can choose online the users who write the best tweets, similar to your interests, obviously your friends too, and follow them through the action called “following“. In this way on the central part of your space twitter, after the insertion of the password, you can read the tweets regarding the topics or persons you intend to follow. The list of the tweets sent by those who interest you is always updated.

lista_FOLLOWINGVice versa for those who consider your Twitter interesting; they may follow you becoming your followers.
Unlike Facebook, the absence of bonds and the failed popularity is not a big limit; I may not have friends (followers) and I may not want to follow anyone (followings), but I sure may quote online other users or through ‘@’ debate with them, or reply or retweet or comment on “trendy” arguments.
You don’t need virtual friends to use Twitter!! The important thing is to be, to browse attentively the other twitters and, of course, follow @Mondo2puntozero.
In essence, the element that characterizes the great Twitter users is the agility, the ability to read and move among topics.
Today the popularity starts with a tweet: politicians, men and women in the performing arts, journalists, sportspeople, eminent scientists, … everyone run after the “right” hashtag with the aim of reaching higher popularity.
So what are you waiting for? Create your Twitter user, insert your first tweet suggesting a site you like then try to follow the current trends and, above all, our @Mondo2puntozero.


HASHTAG: the tool of social communication


The different morphology of cyberspace allows to overcome, through the use of social tools, the space-time obstacles and to extend algorithmically its own circle of acquaintances and available information. This type of tools improve the social relationships, set out and speed up the communication between individuals who don’t know each other, spread texts, links and digital contents, amplify a concept, an idea, a personal opinion as well as a recent news or even the latest one.
The social tool, which performs this task in the most innovative way, is definitely the HASHTAG. This is a powerful relational aggregator active on many social networks, even though characterized by small differences of use as well as lexical ones. Among these we find Instagram, Google+, YouTube, TumbIr and, above all, Twitter.
First of all I owe you an explanation consisting the difference between a dynamic aggregator of relational type and a “standard” social relational community type.
When I was a boy I used to meet my friends at the pub down at my doorstep and surely it wasn’t necessary to agree when. How many of us were present was of no relevance, the bar functioned as a “place of meeting” or of aggregation. Who went to the bar could have a chit-chat on any subject with a good part of his friends and also meet a new person, even if this, to speak the truth, happened rather rarely.
The present social networks are a virtual “place of meeting”, just as “my” bar, where I can communicate with my friends.
Let’s imagine for a moment that in my bar it would have been possible, according to the subject discussed, to communicate and debate with other people who, in some other bars, would have chatted on the same subject.

In doing so, people who don’t know each other and who, probably, don’t have in common any interest or any stable relationship, temporarily succeed in confronting themselves on this or that football game, news, television show, character or political faction. This close examination being ended, everything turns to normal, each individual in his own meeting bar, sipping his drink, unless he voluntarily wants to deepen other subjects proposed by “the other.”

This is, in simple terms, the task of HASHTAG, a thematic relational aggregator based on the terms inserted after the character “#”: the tags. In this case internet doesn’t amplify my real world but, algorithmically, it creates assonances among people who talk about the same subject /social theme and it allows the immediate traceability of it; thematic virtual communities, extemporaneous, between actors who don’t know each other, situation that, in my imaginary, I can picture you by adding another bar nearby the one I hang out, for instance, a billiard room.
The hashtag is the target, the sign; it represents the ideas, the actors, the main objects of the occasional community who makes use of it. It is the nucleus of this close examination and, at the same time, it is the fuel which feeds the close examination itself.
There is a clear symmetry between the term or terms used and the social actors who participate in the debate. From the sociological point of view, I consider HASHTAG as a social actor able to stimulate the participation, to create and relocate the debate, to build a new, even if fleeting, relational net.
The HASHTAG is also an innovative tool because:
– It must be anticipated by a symbol and this community-symbol symbiosis connotes the tag, it allows us to visually perceive its presence, it emphasizes the impact and motivates the participation. The hashtag is, in its own way, a symbol.
– A successfully HASHTAG may also have a brief duration butin this (brief) period of time, it can become a real brand, it may connote or determine a tendency or even new definitive social aggregations, marks, custom’s phenomena, social thematic groups and so on…
– It is also possible to insert in a single message more than a HASHTAG, with a sentence or with a link where I can say “everything” and, at the same time, the “contrary of everything” and therefore participate, contemporarily, in two or more specular round-table discussion. The insertion of more HASHTAG in a message, linked to one another, enriches the message, it describes it and at the same time it determines the participation of more virtual groups. This is clearly a ubiquitous tool.
– It is very difficult, but not impossible to create a new trend with the help of HASHTAG, after all, the same applies to the real world! It is really difficult to create new tendencies of talk and even more difficult to have proselytes.
– It is a “metatag“, a metadata algorithmically tracked by a software whose roots are not informatics or mathematics, but taxonomic. The tag is nothing but the modern heir of the subject’s terms and the keywords used in librarianship.
– Tag doesn’t admit spaces, some successfully HASHTAG are very brief and others extremely brief. Sometimes a tag is worldwide known therefore it changes and surpass the concept of “term in use in our language.”
That’s a fact, by now, that our lexicon is, let’s say, “dehydrating online” therefore it is becomes more and more abbreviated and slangy. Who knows what effects will have in time these “linguistic scissors“, maybe by the end of this century, the dictionaries will even contain thousand of acronyms just like a telephone book.
Other media such as radio, television, and recently, the politics, have perceived the potentialities of this tool. Just a few days ago the premier opened a debate on Twitter and, in the same period, a new television show bloomed on Italian SKY and that is: “Third time”, where an impartial expert sports reporter answers, in no time, to all kinds of questions and invectives tweeted and posted by the enthusiastic Italian supporters.
The HASHTAG doesn’t connect only people to contents and contents to people, it also functions as a “bridge” between the new and the old media.
The HASHTAG, sociologically, can consider itself an “acting subject” or a social actor, not human, but able to perform the active role of the main character on the social networks’ construction.
The HASHTAG is a tool of occasional communication, but at the same time, is powerful, popular, social and global whose strong point is exactly this duality inside its syncretistic, fleeting, but at the same time lasting soul.



From post to pingbacks, how to communicate via network


In 1989 I was a young computer programmer and the only way to keep myself updated with latest technology news was to buy electronics and computer magazines. Therefore, each time I found an interesting article I photocopied it and took it to my friends and colleagues.
The information had a very slow spread process, very few of my colleagues would had the opportunity to deepen the topics covered in those articles or to discuss them with their computer technicians colleagues.
I would also like to underline the enormous waste of paper that took place in the past.
In fact, the innovation in those years was, both in terms of hardware and software, high-growth, even if the computer technicians didn’t have enough tools to follow and share the technological evolution.
Computer technology ran at 100 kilometers per hour, but the information ”stumbled” a lot, incapable of  moving at the same speed of innovation.
Everything has changed today, in no time everyone can spread an article on line, not only technicians and experts, but anyone can send it toward collaborators, friends, industry experts. It doesn’t matter if the item is with fee or a free-of-charge one.
The action of spreading  we are talking about is called “post”, it is the publication of a comment and one or more hypertext links that catapults the reader / friend / colleague directly on information. The information can be sent in a few moments and in a targeted manner to hundreds or thousands of people, these people can easily access to what is reported and even comment on it, or “post” it to other people.
The “post” is free, immediate, but above all is an “active alarm,” or rather, it reaches the targeted audience as fast as a ringing of a telephone. The “post” is the great grandson of the citation, bibliographic tool, with the big difference that, by posting, the information is immediately available with a simple click. But the “post” is also the natural heir of the “pub’s chat”, its simplicity allows you to quickly and easily bring in any kind of comment.
There is another technical term that can explain how the flow of communication is much more complex today than in the past, and that is “referer”. This term indicates the source address of the post sent.
On web it’s popular indicating as “referer” the site or the person who performs the role of amplifier, therefore of a “family agent”.
In summary, the information circulates now in a much faster and far-reaching way as before, and it can also be covered retroactively.
BLOG writers know very well the term “PingBack“, this is a kind of notice citation. When one of my articles is quoted, it gets “posted” on the network from another website and I receive an immediate notification related to the page that has decided to quote me.
The act of online contents diffusion can be carried out completely automatically and free-of-charge. The activation of a service RSS feed allows interested users to receive on their browser or on feed aggregator all the latest news: a feed for each new article in a blog or in an online newspaper, for each new recipe published on their favorite site, for each type of announcement published on net, and so on. Particularly interesting is the role of the icon that represents the feed service, easily recognizable it allows user to perceive immediately the possibility to subscribe updates from  Website / Portal / Blog he is reading. The RSS feed is also an example of how the standard rules application, coherently organized from the informatics point of view (XML), has facilitated the service spread.
Do not forget about Twitter, the best social network. Twitter is a combination of speed, practicality, diffusion. With Twitter you can implement both “post” actions manual and automatic. When this article will be published, a tweet will be automatically sent to my followers’ mobile smart phone, tablet or personal computer.
In the last ten years, even less, the spread of information has outpaced the time and space constraints, no more copies hand-delivered to a few friends. New patterns have emerged, simpler, automatic, faster and immediate.
The author can monitor the use of his information on network, he can counter the quote received, he even may respond to comments and requests. The user can spread what he wants, to anyone he wants, enriching it with quotes and personal suggestions.
All these changes and the passage of time, faded away the memory of me who once made photocopies.