Back in July 2008 I decided to try out a little known application for the iPhone by the name of Twinkle, developed by Tapulous. I was instantly hooked as it used the geo-location functionality of the phone to let you know when people are nearby. You could search for users within a specific kilometer radius around you and chat to them, in addition you could enlarge or shrink that search radius to suit. Seeing other twitter users who were within range of you and chatting away was horribly addictive.
Twinkle was basically a superb (and still is) location aware chat client that allows you to upload photos to your Twitter account as well as update your status. Addictiveness knows no boundaries and I was pretty much ‘Twinkling’ on the way to work whilst on the bus, as well as doing the same whilst in the office at work and then on the way home. I’d be constantly ‘chatting’ to complete strangers via 140 character long messages, similar to SMS texts if you will.
Behind all of this was Twitter. In its simplest form, it is a website where you can broadcast short messages up to 140 characters max – to anyone who has signed up to receive them (known as a follower). In turn you can also become a ‘follower’ to other twitters. Your followers for instance could be say ten of your best friends or if you’re a well known celebrity like Stephen Fry, 190,539 crazed fans. Twitter started off fast and is gaining momentum and a frightening pace. Balls to Myspace and the Facebook’s of today, they’re nothing by comparison.
Twitter went mainstream fairly recently on February 5th 2009 when a US Airbus Flight 1549 hit some birds and lost power in both engines. The plane slammed into New York’s Hudson River, with everyone on board surviving. The most incredible thing was that there was a person on-board the flight using Twitter as his prime means of reaching the outside world. How he managed to remain calm and type away amongst the turbulence is another thing altogether.