Why I use Twitter: An open letter to Jon Stewart

By Joe Doherty, ITworld |  Tech & society, Jon Stewart, Tech & society

Recently, on The Daily Show, host Jon Stewart said, "Why do I have to follow CNN on Twitter? If I want to follow CNN, I can follow them on CNN. Mr. Stewart brings up an excellent point, and ultimately the big underlying question: What exactly is the point of Twitter?

My wife and I have this same conversation from time to time. She does indeed follow news outlets like MSNBC through Twitter. I do as well, except I follow my local outlet, the Metrowest Daily News. I also follow more eclectic news sources, like NASA. But the Tweets from these sites are simply links to their headlines. Much in the same way I Tweet the location of the articles I write (along with all of the non-sequitors which are obligatory for Twitter-writing). If I really wanted to know what's going on in the world, why wouldn't I, as Mr. Stewart suggests, just watch CNN or visit any one of the websites for the Twitter accounts I've mentioned above?

I suppose I can only truly answer for myself. So here's my answer, and it's not as clever as Mr. Stewart's comment: Because it's there. The same reason we first went to the moon. I use Twitter for a myriad of reasons, all of which cause me to have TweetDeck open all day long. When I check what's happening with my Twitterbuddies, I can also read headlines from what's happening with the news channels I subscribe to. Simple explanation, really.

I am one of those people who resisted using iTunes as it is something of a large program and a bit of a resource hog. (Especially when compared to Foobar 2000.) I tend to resist having more applications open than really necessary, even though my computer can seem to handle everything I throw at it these days (and yes, it's Vista 64-bit). Since I do need to work and can't afford the luxury of surfing all day, I find that one app that I can pop over to that has news, information and my friends' news and information to not only be useful, but allows me to be ultimately more productive. That last line, of course, was for my boss. Insert photo of sheepish grin here.

Incidentally, there's a campaign going around to get Jon Stewart to Twitter.

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