Recently posted in an online discussion:
Twitter is like CBs for people who can type. It can function similarly to a blog feed, except it’s being run by actual human minds, rather than a computer just dumping information willy-nilly on you.
I’m really interested in connoisseur-level tea, and on Twitter I found I could connect up with other people with my niche interest. One can find some extremely knowledgeable writers, many of whom have very intriguing blogs of their own or are involved in the industry in some way. I’ll write– and bear with me, because the example that follows is intended to show how niche interests can find this a good tool. If you find it boring, well, that’s the point, isn’t it? I don’t expect you to be interested in tea. But people who are have found a way of connecting via Twitter.
The example: I open up my Twitter account, using Twhirl software. I find someone “retweeting,” which means republishing, a short note (or tweet) by an Indian tea marketer, who lives in Darjeeling. Darjeeling is a region whose teas intensely interest me, because they are intense, bright, ascerbic, complex, and can be mind-blowing. I then click on this Twitterer’s name to read his tweets for the past few weeks (Benoy, I'm looking at you), and I decide to become a follower– a reader of his Twitter publications. He writes about how there is a drought in Darjeeling, which is causing the first-flush teas (the Spring harvest) to be very late. Links to longer comments on his blog.
I strike up a conversation with this man in Darjeeling, India about what he expects from the harvest of teas this year, and he responds back and tells me he expects the first-flush teas to come in (due to the rains that finally have appeared, hallelujah), but in very limited amounts. Buy some while it’s available! Sure enough, I see some of the best, affordable Darjeelings are out of stock already.
So my new Darjeeling friend decides to follow me, as well, to facilitate dialog. Other people who are searching for the term, “tea,” can see the back-and-forth between us and can chime in with ideas and advice. I discover new people who are tea connoisseurs, who can teach and inform me about this obsession of mine.
Eventually, several online tea merchants (including my Indian friend) send me teas, which they would like me to review on my blog. Suddenly, I am drinking absolutely fresh Darjeelings and Chinese Dragon Well teas, and on and on, that have been plucked only weeks ago, and are at their peak.
Also, there is a feedback loop with other forms of social networking and self-publishing. As I mentioned before, I can read short clips of longer blog posts and decide whether I want to follow up and read more. Also, people link to other posts of interest. In addition, Twitter can feed into Facebook. Indeed, Twitter is like the “update” on a Facebook account, but it can be read by anyone, not just your closest friends.
Indeed, as I write this, my Indian friend posted a Tweet (It’s the middle of the day in Darjeeling, though night time here), with a link talking about the brand-new, second-flush teas that are just arriving on the market in Darjeeling but aren’t available yet here in the U.S. (his blog post is, http://www.darjeelingcuppa.com/2009/06/arya-sftgfop1-second-flush-darjeeling-tea-2009/ ) Now i know that my beloved second-flush teas are going to be a bit of a challenge to get this year, as well; and I should get ready to do some early purchasing online to get what I need.
The effect of Internet networking (via Facebook, blogs, corporate and personal Web sites, Twitter, and so on) on the emerging tea culture in the United States and elsewhere is very well written up by “corax” on the Cha Dao web site: http://chadao.blogspot.com/2009/04/tea-and-internet.html.
So, that’s one use for Twitter. Connecting up with others who share a niche interest (whether it be tea, technology, or politics, or a particular religious viewpoint) can be facilitated there.