There are literally hundreds of social networking websites, and more coming online all the time. One of my favorites right now is Twitter, all thanks to this recent blog post by Northwoods GeoCats. Rather than repeat the same information here, I encourage you to take a minute to read that blog post, which provides an excellent introduction to the service.
The beauty of Twitter is its simplicity. You create a list of people to "follow", and others add you to their "following" list. There are a number of geocachers currently using twitter, and by adding them to your following list, you get to see what they're up to every time they post an update, or "tweet". These short text blasts are as varied as the cachers who post them:
- found bkip's 101st hide, that's a lotta hides.
- Downloading the rest of the valley on my PN40, 5.4gb. My 8gb card is groaning.
- taking a 12 mile hike today!
- final tally for the day: 3 finds, 1 DNF
- archiving a cache because the building it was on has disappeared
But beware; Twitter can be very addictive. Remember how exciting it was to get messages on your telephone answering machine (25 years ago), or to hear your computer say, "You've Got Mail" (15 years ago). Well, Twitter's kinda like that, but on steroids. If you use the TwitterFox add-on for Firefox (for which there are many), you'll find yourself constantly glancing at the bottom-right corner of your screen for new tweets:
The best way to get started on Twitter, once you've set up an account, is to just start following people. Then you can check their profiles to see who they're following, and find more people to follow. For example, if you open my profile, you'll see a list of the people I'm following on the bottom-right part of the screen:
Click on any of these icons to see if you share similar interests, and if so, add them to your following list. Before you know it, your list will grow and you'll be getting more tweets than you can handle.
Note that the Twitter "Find People" tool doesn't appear to be working at the moment. But there are other options, such as the Twitter Grader search engine. Type in a name or a term, like "geocacher" and see who pops up. Twitter Grader is also a good site to check out the profiles of the "Twitter Elite".
Another great site for newbie tweeterers is, TwiTip. In particular, this post is perfect for beginners. It's worth noting that I learned about this site in a recent "tweet" from EMC of Northridge.
Of course, not just geocachers are using Twitter. Even people like Al Gore, John Cleese, and Leo LaPorte tweet. And you can follow them too (even though they may not follow you back). And there are tons of Twitter Tools out there for the taking, including applications for your desktop, your browser, and your mobile phone and iPhone (Twitterrific is a nice one).
So go ahead and jump in. I hope to see you on Twitter soon.
Cache and Tweet On!