"We need an article ASAP," Jim said some time
(and several thousand tweets) ago, "about our new
Twitter-based instant alerting service."
"Sounds cool," I replied. "So... what on Earth is Twitter?"
I'll be the first to admit I'm not the most techno-savvy staffer
at ANN. I'm typing this on a two-year old Dell desktop that's
hardly state-of-the-art, but at least it can run Flight Simulator
2004 (but not FSX, too slow.) Heck, I didn't even buy my first
computer until 2004... which makes my current line of work
incredibly ironic, if nothing else.
So, it was off to the Internet for me, to find out what Twitter
was. As it turns out, it's pretty neat. Most ANN readers probably
know already that Twitter is an online service that enables you to
broadcast short messages to your friends or "followers" -- in this
case, allowing us to share breaking news with ANN readers.
Twitter is designed to work on a mobile phone as well as on a
computer (and can be accessed via your IM clients). All Twitter
messages (called "Tweets", naturally) are limited to 140
characters, so each message can be sent as a single SMS alert.
Brevity is a virtue when using Twitter, since you can't say much in
140 characters (then again, the world would probably be a better
place if people spent less time reading their cell-phones,
A completely free service, Twitter is useful for close-knit
groups, to quickly communicate group-related items. It's something
of a mini-blogging tool -- 140 characters at a time. For
example, on July 3rd, ANN used our Aero-Twitter
application to update the status of the first flight of Cirrus
Design's "The-Jet." Subscribers to ANN's Aero-Twitter were able to
receive these notices instantly on their computers, or via their
cell phones, hours before any other aero-reporting outfit could
convey the news.
We're not planning to go nuts with Aero-Twitter. It's meant to
let you know of important programs or news alerts. Rest assured, we
won't send instant alerts every time NATCA accuses the FAA of...
well, anything... nor will we burden the service with such
earthshaking news as a certain aircraft manufacturer
making minor changes to its logo. But, if
there's a major event in the aero-world -- first flights,
significant product announcements, really cool new programs on
Aero-TV, that sort of thing -- of course, we want the ANN audience
to know about it, and know about it first.
So... check it out... it's the latest in an aggressive
series of upgrades that we'll be rolling out in the next few