Productive Community Growing Around Twitter

I know many of you have heard me talk about this online micro blogging platform before on the podcast but though I would take an opportunity to dive into some details of what is growing out of the conversation.

The Service: This service was launched in March of 2006 and really got picked up by a majority of bloggers and other tech media around the beginning of 2007 at CES and MacWorld Expo. As many of these Web 2.0 services start to launch, it is always a mystery, not only how long will they stick around but what exactly their uses will be. More often than not, these services are conceptualized one way, only to be used by the masses in ways never foreseen by their designers. Twitter very much has fallen into this trend.

Twitter, as described on its homepage, "A service for friends, family, and co–workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: What are you doing?" The other challenging aspect of these "quick, frequent answers" is they are limited to 140 characters. This limit is tied to that of the phone based short message service (SMS) since this is a way to easily update your status when away from your computer.

Currently there are three major ways to update your status with Twitter. One is through their website, via SMS or text message by sending your message to 40404 from your phone as well as many growing third party desktop and web-based applications. The best part of the third party applications is they bring some pseudo-stability to the Twitter service up-time is fragile, to be kind. I currently use an Adobe Air application called Twhirl but there are so many so your best bet is to search for "Twitter clients" and pick the one that fits your needs.

The Community: When it comes to SolidWorks community, Twitter is beginning to play an important part of the everyday community chatter. The SolidWorks Twitter community really began with a couple of us geeks just testing the water at the beginning of the year and it has really grown into something that has an addictive nature. The community thus far consists of some SolidWorks employees, various SolidWorks bloggers, growing numbers of users around the world, even the founder of SolidWorks himself Jon Hirschtick joined just a few weeks ago!

The Conversation: The conversation can range from "I'm out getting some coffee at StarBucks" to daily tips on using SolidWorks. What is interesting is how regular the community contributes. People who are on Twitter are interested to know what others are up to and want to share what they are doing as well. As soon as you start "following" a user on Twitter, meaning you will get updates to their status, you begin to read what others are up to that you are interested in. What has spawned is a group of SolidWorks interested people who all want to contriubute and talk tech all day. They can be extremely productive/distracting since it is a technology that can ping you as it comes in. This can be even more disruptive than your email notification since the rate can be as high as a few minute or more depending on how many people you are following.

What is most interesting is how the community is growing and how you can "jump" into the conversation, update what you are up to, read what is going on and get out. Once you leave, you feel like you are in the loop and up with the bleeding edge of SolidWorks breaking news. I use it to push out news like service pack releases, tech related news, and quick tips.

Who to follow: My buddy Josh Mings at SolidSmack did a great post on 60+ people to follow on Twitter that details his impressions of Twitter and who in on it. Searching Twitter for the keyword SolidWorks, you can see who is talking about it and if you look at their posts you can determine if they are worth following.

In addition to my @gol10dr (my Twitter account) I also contribute to @SolidWorksTips which are 140 character tips with both Josh Mings and Ben Eadie. The goal is to have a daily tip, well it averages out to a tip a day even though we usually push out tips in 2 or 3 at a time every couple of days. So far we have received good feedback from many of the followers out there and look forward to giving back to the SolidWorks community 140 characters at a time! ~Lou