In the world of social networking, websites can come and go as ever more fickle users surge through cyberspace as orderly as sheep scattered by wolves. Just look at Friendster’s precipitous drop from must-be-at status to tumbleweed ridden wasteland and Facebook’s successful bid for growth by opening up to pretty much everybody. Twitter is the newest social networking site to spread like shrapnel over the web. There is not much that is new in Twitter: in short, it is a shared blog that is limited to one hundred and forty characters per entry (twenty less than a text message) posted on the web, over instant messaging or SMS’ed from your cell phone. Once you have convinced your friends to join, you all get each other’s posts. What this creates is a sort of heartbeat of what your friends are doing, in real time from wherever you are to wherever you are.

Twitter is also extendable via tools provided by the site if you have the programming chops, but even if you don’t, you can take advantage of emerging companion sites like TwitterMap (, which lets you see what others (friends or otherwise) are twittering about on a Google Map. In all likelihood Twitter‘s popularity will peak, stabilize and erode as the wave of users washes out to the Internet sea again, but for now, it is likely that your friends will end up there and you will have to join if only so you won’t be left out. Twitter’s forté is simplicity and singularity of purpose, no lengthy profiles, no posting of pictures, no movies, and no music; instead it focuses on doing its one job well. Whether this will be enough to secure a place for itself in the future remains to be seen.

Check it out, just watch for your SMS bills when you start tracking a bunch of your friends. For the ultimate Twitter mashup, check out the hopelessly addictive Twittervision (, which continuously pops realtime Twitter entries over a global map.