Tweet, tweet! Do you Twitter? If you do, you're probably already getting an idea about what we're leading up to here. Or you may have heard about Twitter these past few days on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, The Today Show or The Ellen DeGeneres Show...it seems to be getting mentioned a lot lately! If you haven't heard of it, we might need to tell you what we're talking about. Veteran tweeters can skip a few paragraphs. Otherwise, follow along!
Twitter.com, founded in 2006, is considered a social networking site. One that many people would lump in with the likes of Facebook and MySpace. People who use it, though, know that it's quite different: more like a mini-blog, letting you briefly tell people - in 140 characters or less per post - what you are doing (or thinking) right now. People who want to find out what you're currently up to can "follow" you, getting real-time updates as quickly as you send them in. Twitter posts, called "tweets," can easily be texted from your cell phone or PDA, as well as input from the web, with any updates about the accounts you're following being received by the same method.
Various stories have emerged about how useful Twitter is: there's the one about a Berkeley student who was arrested while visiting Egypt because he was near an anti-government protest, and sent the one-word tweet "arrested," prompting people back in the States to come to his aid. Then there's the story about doctors using Twitter during surgeries to keep loved ones (and other doctors, along with the merely curious) updated about the status of the patient during long procedures. Twitter has helped keep people in touch during the California wildfires, in the middle of earthquakes, and from areas experiencing bad storms (rain, snow, tornadoes, etc.). Tweets even came out from the floor of the U.S. Capitol during President Obama's joint address to Congress last month.
Many celebrities use Twitter: not only do they find it useful and fun, they naturally want to keep their name out there. Or even just prevent fakes from popping up and using their name (lots of people follow "Tina Fey," but it's not the real 30 Rock star). On the other hand, Star Trek fans can follow the real William Shatner, Brent Spiner, Wil Wheaton, LeVar Burton (who held a "tweet-up" (meet-up) for followers in Toronto), and George Takei. During the campaign, Barack Obama used Twitter very effectively. For a recent live Idol broadcast, Ryan Seacrest tweeted mid-show that Chef Gordon Ramsay had just arrived ("Two angry English men in one room!"); Ramsay was on the tube just moments later. Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore tweet husband/wife stuff between their Twitter accounts. And Heroes star Greg "Grunny" Grunberg ("Matt Parkman") was the focus of a recent L.A. Times story, and routinely "TwitPics" photos from the set. Check out CelebrityTweet.com to find out more about celebs who use Twitter.
That list includes the likes of NBC News anchors Ann Curry (The Today Show, Dateline NBC) and David Gregory (the new host of Meet the Press). But on-air talent aren't the only ones in the newsroom who are using Twitter. News gathering agencies and services have taken to feeding headlines to Twitter, too, so followers can get immediate updates about what's going on in the world. NBC News, CNN, NPR, BBC News, Reuters, the NASA news office and many others present brief information on Twitter, complete with links to the rest of the story, so interested readers can jump right in. News from the area of entertainment is also there, naturally: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, TMZ, the Internet Movie DataBase (IMDB), Redbox, our friends at Shout! Factory, and of course our big-sister site TVGuide.com can all be found on Twitter.
TVShowsOnDVD has gone live on Twitter today, offering our followers a quick way to keep up with all of our own news headlines, and Gord's latest reviews. Plus on Tuesday mornings we'll try to remind you which big new TV-DVD titles are hitting stores that day. If there were a technical issue with the site that would go on for a while, Twitter would be a good place for us to mention it. And you shouldn't be surprised if we slip in something else from time to time, such as our comments, thoughts and opinions that don't otherwise find their way into the TVShowsOnDVD news area.
If you're new to Twitter, then you can follow us on the web (at the link above), via SMS (texting) on your cell phone, or use any of a large variety of Twitter apps such as TweetDeck, Twitterrific, TwitterFox, Twhirl, TwitterBerry, Tweetie, TwitterMail (which is what we're using here for our primary feed) and others. So use them to check out our stuff; hopefully you'll find useful info in our tweets...maybe even something you'll find worthy of re-tweeting to your own followers! Our thanks to longtime reader Wesley Mead for helping us to beta test our Twitter setup, offering his feedback on various aspects of it. We hope you enjoy the results; we want this to be informative and fun for everybody!