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The microblogging site Twitteris growing like a weed, threatening to become a full-fledged mainstream phenomenon.
A new report by HubSpot called "State of the Twittersphere" says that between 5,000 and 10,000 new users join the service every day, that 70% of current users joined within the last year and that 20% have joined within the past two months.
If you're not familiar with Twitter, it's a service that combines all the best elements of blogs, IM, message boards and chat rooms. You can post anything you want, but each post, or "tweet," is limited to 140 characters or less. That makes it hard to post, but easy to read. You subscribe to, or "follow," anyone you want. So if someone's posts are boring, inane, offensive or objectionable in any way, you simply "unfollow" and never hear from them again.
The basic secret to understanding and enjoying Twitter is following great users who post interesting things. I'm obsessed with adding new people, and cutting those who fail to deliver the goods. So if you want great followers, just steal mine. (It's perfectly ethical.)
As recently as just one week ago, there were two major flaws -- or, at least, annoyances -- associated with Twitter.
The first was that once you start following a large number of people, it's hard to keep up with their Tweets. Like many devoted Twitterers, I always keep a thin browser window open on my screen to monitor Tweets. Unfortunately, Twitter doesn't auto-refresh. So to get the new posts, I had to keep clicking every time I needed to refresh. To fix this, I created a page that auto-refreshes Twitter every 15 seconds. Now, I can just leave Twitter "running," and I need only to glance over once in a while to see the new Tweets.
You can use this page, too. It's called Twitter On Crack, and it's just a very simple, free page that shows you your own Twitter feed, but with self-updating at 15-second intervals.
The second Twitter flaw is that there's something about Twitter that makes you want to post interesting experiences you have. These posts run the gamut from a recent tweet from a person who said she was locked in the bathroom at Best Buy to another who was on that Continental flight that slid off the runway in Denverthis week.
But so many Twitterable things happen when you're not able to type anything, such as in the dark, or while running a marathon or while doing any number of other things. There should be a way to post tweets using voice-to-text technology over a cell phone. And now there is.
A service called HelloTxt, which happens to be the service I use to post Tweets on Twitter, has made a deal with another company called Dial2Do, which gives you the ability to post tweets with a phone call.
HelloTxt is a front end for posting short stuff. By posting just one message on HelloTxt, you simultaneously post on Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, Plaxo, Friendfeed and a bunch of others.
Dial2Do is a service like Jott or ReQall that gives you a phone number to call. You say a command, leave a message, and that message is transcribed into text and sent where ever you commanded it to be sent. Most people use these services to leave themselves reminders in their e-mail inboxes.
By combining HelloTxt and Dial2Do, you can command phone messages to be posted to your HelloTxt account.
This is great news, because once both HelloTxt and Dial2Do are set up, you just hit the speed dial on your cell phone, say HelloTxt, then say your post. Whatever you say gets transcribed into text and posted on Twitter, as well as all the other services you specified during setup.
Dial2Do also lets you listen to Twitter. It will read tweets from the people you follow over the phone. It also lets you post directly to Twitter without going through HelloTxt.
So there you have it. Twitter, without typing, pointing or clicking. Follow me on Twitter at twitter.com/mike_elgan and let me know how you like Twitter On Crack and posting tweets via Dial2Do!