Like most folks who spend a bit too much time online, it’s always odd trying to explain things to folks who … don’t have an online life outside of the weekly checking of the email or surfing for a cranberry recipe.
Over Thanksgiving in Minnesota I was asked to explain what Facebook was and got in some trouble for suggesting that it’s more of a “coastal thing” which was in fact probably wrong anyway but also seemed to imply the heartland wasn’t up to snuff on digital happenings. Interestingly though Craigslist was well known and loved by all even as the social networking tools were largely unrecognized.
I’ll definitely want to wait until next year to explain Twitter, but when I do I’ll have them read Tim O’Reilly‘s insightful post where I think he correctly observes that Twitter has moved from something that didn’t have obvious relevance or usefulness to an almost indispensable part of the work life of many onliners.
In some ways Twitter has replaced both email and blogging as the tool of choice for the digitally obsessed, and this has come about from it’s usefulness combined with the natural problems that have cropped up with email (spam, attachments, delays, lack of brevity, timing, etc, etc) and with blogging (surfing issues, navigation problems, wordiness, unequal playing fields, comment moderation, etc, etc.