Defining Twitter with Analogies

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More than any other question lately, I am answering “What is Twitter?” and “Why should I use Twitter?” At least once a day. For something so simple, it’s not easy to explain.

Many of us turn to analogies to explain it, so I decided to start collecting useful Twitter analogies here. Please add to the list.

(Most analogies I’ve collected are in general usage but a few should be credited.)

Twitter Is Like…

  • “a virtual information booth” – Morgan Johnston (@JetBlue)
  • a way to plug in to a universal brain
  • a search engine for tracking instantaneous conversations
  • “a multipurpose communication machine” – Christi Day (@SouthwestAir)
  • a giant public chat room
  • a combination of chatting and blogging
  • networking on steroids
  • a party you can drop in on 24/7
  • “a phone party line from the 1950s” – Morriss Partee (@mmpartee)
  • a CB radio (or perhaps a CB is “Twitter for truckers”)
  • email 2.0
  • a user-defined network
  • a democratic communication tool
  • a roller coaster ride

.

Twitter is like swimming. Impossible to explain, you just have to jump in and try it.
—Alex de Carvalho (@alexdc)

It’s Up to You

I especially agree with Twitter being “a user-defined network” because the definition of it depends on how you use it and that will undoubtedly evolve over time. (Hmm, evolve is probably the wrong word for the fast-paced Twitterverse. You might find new uses for it every day.)

How do you define Twitter? I hope you’ll leave more analogies in the comments box below.

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  • An analogy I have used to describe Twitter, continuing the bird theme, is to picture a bird feeder. It is full of seed, birds fly in, pick up a seed and fly away. If that is all that happens, the feeder is soon empty. If some birds fly in bringing a seed, others can fly away with a seed and the process is more sustainable. The more birds fly in with a seed, i.e. bringing value to the conversation, the better off we will all be.