Users can update new social network constantly

Kyle Ferguson

The giants of social networking Web sites, Facebook and MySpace, might have some new competition in a recently created service called Twitter.

Twitter was created in March 2006 by a 10-person company named Obvious, and it allows everyone to give their own answer to the question, “What are you doing?”

The way it works is: After someone sets up a free account, the person can upload a small post to the Web site from their phone, an instant messenger client or the Web site itself to say what they are doing.

From there, their activity is posted on the main page, and is also sent to the instant messenger or phone of any friends who have chosen to join the person’s network.

People can also choose to follow the messages, or “tweets,” of people they find interesting, which is called being a “follower.”

Although Twitter is becoming increasingly popular across the nation, appearing in publications such as Time Magazine, some ISU students are unfamiliar with the new technology.

“I’ve never heard of it, but it doesn’t sound like something I’d be interested in,” said Tyler Van Peursem, junior in chemical engineering. “I’m only on Facebook because that’s where most of my friends are.”

For being created such a relatively short time ago, the program has grown quickly. It won the 2007 Web award in the blog category at South by Southwest, an annual music and media festival. It has attracted the attention of John Edwards, who has about 2,000 friends and followers, and has posted a few tweets about his campaign plans.

However, some question the benefit of such a program.

“Do we really want to know what our friends are eating for dinner?” said Michael Bugeja, director of the Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication and author of “Interpersonal Divide: The Search for Community in a Technological Age.”

“This just seems to me to be a continual Facebook feed that will add minutes to the cell phone bill,” he said. “Many of these networks are or soon will be funneled into your cell phone, which uses satellite positioning software not only to disclose what you are doing, but where you are doing it.”

Also, this Web site could require more time in conjunction with Facebook and MySpace, Van Peursem said.

“The bad thing is that you have a bunch of people on different networks, and it’s hard to keep in touch with friends. It’d get a little annoying having to juggle Facebook, MySpace and now Twitter,” Van Peursem said.

Brian Drefke, freshman in pre-business, agreed.

“I’m already on Facebook and MySpace, so adding another thing to the list of ways to waste my time would be a bad idea,” he said. “Plus, if you have a lot of friends, your phone would probably be going off every few seconds or so.”

In response to the Virginia Tech shooting, college administrators are discussing an alternative to the e-mail alert system used in such situations. The alternative being talked about would use cell phone text messaging, but networks such as Twitter could interfere with this system.

“Many administrators forget just how jammed the cell phone text queue actually can be. How can administrators burst through the spam of e-mail or the Twitter of text to alert students to any danger as what happened at VT?” Bugeja said.