Este texto é a tradução do guest post que o Paulo Querido pediu para o CertamenteQueSim, a partir de uma entrada mais antiga aqui no Lago sobre o Twitter em Portugal.
This is the translation of a guest post asked by Paulo Querido for his blog, from an earlier post i wrote about the use of Twitter in Portugal.
Guest Post @ CertamenteQueSim – Twitter em Portugal
Original post-Twitter em Portugal | Twitter in Portugal
Twitter is considered to be the online service that more will grow until the end of the year, with an estimated number of about one million users around the world. However, most portuguese – even those who surf the web or use their cell phones for internet access- don’t know about it or what is it for.
What is Twitter?
In a simple definition, Twitter is a microblogging tool; in a clearer version, twitter is a online messaging service, stuck between instant messaging or text messaging, and email. It’s most marking feature is the fact that messages are limited to 140 characters. This settled, what’s the thing about Twitter?
According to a research that tries to understand the use of Twitter in community creation, ” Compared to regular blogging, microblogging fulfills a need for an even faster mode of communication. By encouraging shorter posts, it lowers users’ requirement of time and thought investment for content generation.” In fact, the starting point in Twitter is to say “What are we doing now?”. These characteristics allow users to make several updates through out the day, more than in a blog, and talk about things as simple as where we are doing our shopping.
Here we reach to another fundamental feature in Twitter: due to the number of characters in use, it’s the ideal service for mobile devices, i.e. cell phones.If we follow someone’s tweets (Twitter posts) we can receive them by text message, for free.
The fact that several people can follow each user’s tweets, it allows to create an informal community, with relationship bonds more or less narrow, interested in the thoughts, impressions and experiences of everyone, as they happen. instead of text messaging one single friend, we share the information with all our followers, that may or may not read the message, since it’s not directed to anyone in particular, yet is shared with everybody. The fact of gathering people interested in some types of information, allowed the expansion od Twitter’s possibilities.
If,in the beginning, the goal was to let people know what we were doing at a given moment, Twitter’s potential to share information in a immediate way with a large number of people, opened the doors to other type of using. Some media companies understood that this could be the ideal tool for delivering breaking news and other news updates, for free, instead of the traditional text messaging service. This and other applications of this tool in the newsrooms have been discussed by professionals. In the blog world, Twitter is used to notify users of a new post, but it can also be used to call up followers to an event, or ask for some help or enlightenment about a subject. Twitter has even been used for interviews, and live reports. But, as multimedia elements placement inside the tweets is being developed, it’s easy to see that so much more can be done with this service.
Twitter in Portugal
But how do we use Twitter here in Portugal? The question came to me when Gabriela Zago, a journalism brazilian student and one of the editors of TwitterBrasil blog, asked me for some data to build a map, to support a case study she’s writing on the subject. My findings, then, were, desolating.
Most users are between 20 and 35 years old, and are in their majority, connected to activities related to new technologies and communication, and about half of them doesn’t update their tweets in months now. Though there was a noticeable growth of 40% in a bit over a month ( 515 to 719 registered in Portugal, in Twitter), the scenery has barely changed. To remark the almost total absence of companies or institutions. However, i can say that there are Twitter uses that, beyond being original, are quite useful. Here’s a shortlist of the ones that escape the normal usage pattern, that i found in Portugal:
-there are only two newspapers using Twitter:
-then there’s a Twitter dedicated to live football match results (there are three more dedicated to the biggest three national football clubs, but i don’ know who runs them):
-there’s another (that i find useful) to know which concerts we are having around here, especially in festivals:
-then there are other projects, like http://twitter.com/portugalbirding, with regional versions, but that seem not to be working. Later i found out that already exists a contact network dedicated exclusively to this activity, and that hasn´t lost people to this alternative;
-others are related to weather forecasts:
-the most curious and with relevant informatio, is one of a fire brigade that presents the weather conditions and fire hazard level:
-even more specific and completely hyperlocal , is the Twitter of Borba’s Parish:
-then we have another from the Internal Affairs Ministry, but that has never worked:
-finally, the highways of Portugal concessionaire tweet, that informs about traffic conditions in their controlled routes:
For the A1 visit http://twitter.com/ptA1
Meanwhile other iniciatives related to Twitter appeared, like TwitterPortugal, that creates a timeline with all of the registered portuguese users tweets.
Applications and Tools
Twitter can be used from it’s homepage, but, as it grew, tools and services were created for a more intense use. Amongst the basic ones are software in all similar to Messenger, like Snitter and Twhirl. For Firefox users there’s a plugin called Twitbin , that lets us follow Twitter’s timeline in a sidebar. A list of tools to use Twitter can be found here.
At the website TwitterLocal we can follow users of a chosen area, through a generated RSS or XML feed.
If you’d like to have a more visual perspective on Twitter, watch the video Twitter in Plain English , by CommonCraft.com.
Lately there has been the crossing over of differente applications and tools with Twitter, which makes it as the fastest growing service on the internet. The potential is truly unlimited. To keep track of what’s going on, visit Twitter’s blog , and Twitter fans Wiki.
The amount of information about Twitter is getting bigger and bigger, which might scare new users.But despite there those who love and hate Twitter, the truth is that it’s applications are diverse. Inside an informal users community, it allows the sharing of information in a more quick and informal than through a blog, and with a larger interaction, since the reply can made directly and immediately. Amongst the advanteges appreciated by it’s useres are the ability to direct more traffic to blogs, it’s use as an interactive social network, and it’s simplicity. .
In fact, it’s easy use in cell phones predicts a more intensive use in areas of the globe where the cellular network is more developed than internet connections, like in Africa. And the different variations in the use of a mass delivery messaging service can be taken not only by private users but also by companies, in their relationship with the consumer or in business to business relations – for example, the presentation of a specific tweet at a store could grant a discount on a product. More than a communication tool, is a mean to dialogue and participation.
Each one of us can rapidly transform this service in something unique. So the question is not “what are you doing now?” on Twitter. Is why you are not doing it yet.