Last night I signed up for Twitter, an increasingly popular online service that allows users to send status messages from a variety of platforms--mobile, web, IM, etc. Big deal, you say. So what--who cares? The neat thing isn't so much what Twitter does as how you can use Twitter elsewhere on the Internet.
For example, thanks to a Facebook application, I can update my Twitter status and have it show up on my Facebook profile page. Once I redesign my website (coming soon, I promise!) I'm going to add a status box to the front page, and it will draw the status from Twitter. So instead of updating Facebook and my site, all I have to do is update my Twitter status, and anything that draws my status from Twitter will change.
But wait, there's more. Twitter is following the trend of moving the Web off the Web and onto phones. You can text Twitter from your phone. I'm online a lot, so of course it's quite convenient to use the web interface. However, the real power from Twitter, in my opinion, is the fact that I can update it without access to a computer. This way if I get stuck somewhere and can't get to the Internet, I can let other people know. Theoretically all I have to do is set up my phone with Twitter and then text. Theoretically...
Those of you who know TBayTel, my phone company and ISP, know that anything relying on TBayTel is a long shot at best. :p I had a terrible time trying to get Twitter to work with my cell phone. It apparently isn't texting to short codes properly; the non-shortened number wasn't working either. I was almost ready to give up. But wait, what's this? TwitterMail to the rescue!
You see, my phone allows me to text message both phones and email addresses (I'm not certain if this is standard with all SMS phones or if it's a TBayTel thing; I wouldn't be surprised if it's standard). So I signed up for a TwitterMail address, which gives me a secret email address linked to my Twitter account. Any messages sent to this address get sent to Twitter as a status update. Now I send my text message to the TwitterMail address, not any sort of Twitter phone number, and voila! Status update complete.
Thank you, TBayTel, for being totally unhelpful. Thank you, Twitter and TwitterMail, for providing innovative services for free!