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Tweetups: Baby-Twitter Needed

August 5, 2008

A few weeks ago, I wrote a about my new favorite pastime _ Twitter _ and about my difficulty in explaining to non-Twitterers why it was my new favorite pastime.

Twitter.com is a micro-blogging site that allows users to update friends and strangers in 140 characters or fewer about what they’re doing or thinking. They can update as often as they want and say whatever they want.

The idea is so simple that those who don’t try it really can’t understand the point or grasp why it’s so entertaining. Minute-to-minute updates on what other people are doing at work or having for lunch do not interest nonbelievers, and once they find out that it does interest me, they start choosing a date for the intervention.

Stand down, non-Tweeters, because I have an update. Since I last tried to persuade you about the wonders of Twitter, a real-life practical application has revealed itself.

Last week, a bunch of local Tweeters decided to meet in person. (It was actually the second time a Tweetup had occurred among this particular circle of Tweeters, but the previous one had been a 7 a.m. event, and my kind isn’t functioning at that hour.)

The organizers, a former newspaper colleague and a guy from a local ad agency, announced via Twitter a plan to gather at a pub for real-life conversation _ an opportunity to meet one another face-to-face and to share thoughts that were several sentences or even paragraphs long.

It was surreal to walk in and see faces I recognized from Twitter profile pictures _ people I knew a whole lot about but not because we’d ever previously been in the same room.

Among the people present were several colleagues, the head of communications for the local Red Cross, a couple of ad agency folks, a Web designer, some Wichita State faculty and a grad student whose area of expertise is social networking sites.

We discussed everything from our personal Tweeting styles to Tweet speak (I had to find a baby-Twitter in order to attend the Tweetup, for example) to local Tweeters we followed who hadn’t shown up.

I also learned about a few cool blogs and discovered that Twitter has practical purposes as well. The Red Cross publicist says her people use it to communicate with one another in emergency situations.

Another Tweetup is planned soon, and that’s not all. A few newspaper colleague Tweeters who have been Tweeting with a few police department Tweeters are planning a mini-Tweetup at my house later this summer. (We’re tentatively calling it a media/law enforcement summit.)

So there you have it: Proof that the Internet (and Twitter specifically) can actually connect people in a meaningful way.

Not that minute-to-minute updates on work and lunch aren’t meaningful.

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What are you and your friends talking about at the watercooler? E-mail Denise Neil at dneil@wichitaeagle.com.

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(c) 2008, The Wichita Eagle (Wichita, Kan.).

Visit the Eagle on the World Wide Web at http://www.wichitaeagle.com/

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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