Twitter is a popular micro-blogging, status update, link archiving, and asynchronous chat communication tool.
It's also, like many Web 2.0 sites, a lively social community. Users share everything from what they had for lunch, or what airport they're stuck in...to profound declarations of revolutionary activism and links to emerging tech tools that are now open to beta testers.
Unlike FarceBook, I mean Facebook, it's remained simple, streamlined, and sleek.
Let's look briefly at using Twitter as a way to keep all your favorite or important links in one convenient location, while enabling others to visit those. Saving a URL to your Favorites or Bookmarks file is private bookmarking. Sharing links with others, in addition to archiving the links for personal use, is called "social bookmarking".
del.icio.us is a popular social bookmarking site. Jason Calacanis once said, on Twitter, that he was going to "blog over at del.icio.us" for a while, exclusively, as an experiment. You can blog on del.icio.us because you can attach comments to the links you post.
But if Twitter is your primary communication channel, why not use it as your social bookmarking application?
You have a Twitter account.
You tweet (send a Twitter message) to your Followers, and if they happen to be on Twitter's rushing river of brevities at that moment, they'll see it "live", in real time. If not, they won't ever read it, unless they consider your tweets so valuable, they click on your Profile and view your past messages.
So, there you are, communicating in 140 character bursts to your Followers. Pithy writing, condensing a complex or frivolous thought to essential wording, this is a marketable skill. Business writing is not easy, and brevity, being concise and short in your communication, is a valuable art. So as you tweet, you're increasingly gain skill in fast, brief communication.
But let's say you're not on Twitter, you're just surfing the web, researching a topic, or looking for something entertaining, a blog post or video or music. When you find something that is so cool or helpful, you wish others could know about it, Twitter the link.
When you share the link with your Twitter community, you must turn a long web address into a short one. You can use TinyURL to accomplish this task. Use your cursor or keyboard command to highlight the URL, go to Edit in your browser chrome and click on Copy, or use Ctrl + C on your keyboard.
You have now saved the URL to your browser memory, and can convert it to a shorter web address. Paste that long URL into the text entry box on the TinyURL interface. Once you've shortened the URL, it's ready for your tweet.
To speed up the conversion process, install a TinyURL toolbar button on your browser, so every time you need to convert a URL to short form, you just click on the button. TinyURL then converts the URL of the web page to a shorter code.
SAMPLE Twitter message, in social bookmarking mode:
Free legal mp3s of A Silver Mt. Zion, avant-garde classical art music, at http://tinyurl.com/3t2ch9
That's about 90 characters, well under the 140 limit. But it conveys what the link is, what kind of music, and name of band, with a URL that your Followers can click on to visit the site.
Voila! You've just shared a link. You've also archived it, for your own future personal reference. You may want to print out your tweets, so you have an offline copy of your messages and shared links, for when Twitter is down, or if Twitter ever vanishes.
SIDE NOTE: A blogger once said that TinyURL could be the next Digg or YouTube, perhaps even bigger. TinyURL database contains URLs of web pages that people have gone to the trouble of converting to shorter addresses, so these web pages must be significant. The data mining possibilities are clearly there.