(Reprinted from the Lawton Constitution.)
Twitter, the popular Internet site and service, has launched a new and improved version of itself.
For those of you who need a refresher: Twitter is a Web service that allows anyone to set up an account and post short messages. Each message is limited to 140 characters -- one or two sentences.
This is obviously a limitation, but it's also a strength. The short messages make Twitter a Web service that also works well on a cell phone.
And it turns out that even celebrities can manage to write a few words, so Twitter has made it easy for famous athletes or actors to stay in touch with their fans. People who can actually write can use Twitter to point to longer blog posts or articles by posting links.
Anyone who sets up a Twitter account can choose to follow other Twitter accounts, and may also post messages and try to attract followers. You can view whom each person is following.
I have accounts on both Twitter and Facebook.
Facebook seems to be the more popular service, and more of my friends are there.
But I have more control over Twitter, because it's easier to choose who to receive messages from.
I use Twitter as a news service to keep up with what's going on in the world. I subscribe to Twitter accounts from the New York Times and CNN, and from various writers and commenters who interest me, and also a few friends.
Because the messages are short, I can use Twitter to keep up with the news while doing other work.
When the leader of Wikileaks, Julian Assange, was in a British court trying to post bail, I followed a series of short reports on Twitter as I went about my workday.
The new version of Twitter -- you can try it, or stay with the old version for awhile -- has some nice changes.
Clicking on a Tweet opens up a window on the right side of the page which provides more information, including comments from other Twitter users.
Clicking on a username for a message provides information on that person, without having to go to another Web page.
Twitter says it has also made it easier to embed photos and videos in messages.
For many people, what Twitter does with its Web site is irrelevant. Many people never go to Twitter.com at all, but access their Twitter messages and send their their own missives using a third party application, such as Tweetdeck. I have a widget on my Gmail account called Twittergadget that I often use. Twitter can be accessed on cell phones as well as computers.
Ping.fm is a Web site that allows simultaneous posting of the same update to Twitter, Facebook and many other social messenging sites. Threadsy allows people to monitor their e-mail, Facebook updates and Twitter updates at one Web site, putting all of the messages together in one place.
Twitter also has inspired two Web sites which track who used to follow your messages but dumped your feed. The sites are who.unfollowed.me and useqwitter.com.
(Tom Jackson wants to hear about interesting Southwest Oklahoma Web sites and blogs and sites his readers find useful or interesting. Write me firstname.lastname@example.org. I'm on Twitter as jacksontom.)