Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Why Twitter matters to us now

Twitter is a multi-platform, Internet-based social networking/microblogging service that combines features of instant messaging, chat, blogs, and RSS.

The preceding sentence was provided as a public service to web-savvy individuals unfamiliar with Twitter, who were waiting impatiently for a technically concise definition of this trendy new technology. For the rest of you wanting to know why conservatives are all atwitter, read on.
Conservatives on Twitter

The conservative Twitter train is leaving the station, and Hugh Hewitt is driving it. The self-described "center right" radio talk show host introduced many to the political applications of blogs. He is the godfather of the local Northern Alliance of Blogs, helping to make national media figures out of James Lileks, Power Line, "Captain" Ed Morrissey, and a Saturday radio/Internet stream lineup with other Northern Alliance bloggers on AM 1280 The Patriot and UStream.tv.

Shortly after Election Day, Hewitt joined numerous conservative activists within and outside the Republican party in a postmortem analysis that quickly turned technological. Since then, Hewitt created a Facebook account and began experimenting with various applications of Twitter, while documenting his findings and interviewing new media consultants almost daily on his radio show (tune in today, and catch up with Hugh's podcasts on TownHall.com).

Especially since Thanksgiving, conservatives have started to flock to Twitter, led by Hewitt and web sites like Top Conservatives on Twitter and Rebuild the Party. Conservative commentator and blogger Michelle Malkin reactivated her largely dormant Twitter account, now "Tweeting" (posting in Twitter parlance) several times daily. Some of us (myself included) created our Twitter accounts because Hewitt told us to, and proceeded to experiment and learn right along with him.

Why does Twitter matter to political activists, on a desktop or smart phone already crowded with web sites, blogs, RSS feeds, e-mail accounts, IMs and text messages? The answer is in the unique applications made possible by Twitter's deceptively simple format, open architecture, and the creative minds of its users.

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