By Jim Bruckbauer

The question, “What have you been up to?” may soon find its way out of our vocabulary, if the growing popularity of makes it the next staple of Web 2.0

Twitter is a free social networking service that allows users to send “tweets,” or text-based messages up to 140 characters long, to the Twitter website. The updates are displayed on the user’s profile page and then delivered to other users who have signed up to receive them. The updates can be sent to another user’s Twitter page, e-mail, or even mobile device. But don’t worry–users also have the option of restricting the delivery of their messages to their followers alone.

The general idea is to send an update of your current activity. For instance, I may type “meeting Sara at Coffee Joe’s”; my “followers” would then know where they can find me for the next little while. Recently, my coworker twittered about what project he was working on, so I could more efficiently plan my day. From his Twitter page, I also know what one of my customers has been going through the past few days, so the next time I see him I can act accordingly.

Twitter combines two trends that satisfy the needs of the Web 2.0 generation–information feeding and personal transparency. We are increasingly becoming a society where news and alerts are being sent to us digitally. Why not include information about what those close to us are doing? Strangely enough, even repeated digital encounters with another individual can be the basis of developing trust and friendship.

Many may argue that twittering is an unproductive use of your time, since you could get caught up in following your favorite celebrities or presidential candidates in real-time while putting aside your own important tasks.

But others strongly disagree, claiming that Twitter is a great communication tool, even in the workplace.  It can keep you on-task with co-workers and help you better communicate with clients. Some Twitterers will post questions on the site to receive immediate answers. Industry experts can post articles or other information that may be relevant to certain followers. The Los Angeles Fire Department even used Twitter to update the community about the forest fires of 2007.

More useful tools are being added to the application every day. (Remember the Milk) allows users to set up a to-do list and have reminders sent to their mobile device at any future day and time. You can also Tweet What You Eat by logging your food intake into and have the program add your daily calories.

There will always be skeptics of all the tools of Web 2.0, but I would encourage you to discover how effectively these tools can benefit you and those around you. Twitter may just work for you.

“…..just finished article about Twitter”  – 01:15 pm on January 28 by Jimbruckb