How Twitter Made My Website Better
A few weeks ago Chris Brogan published a list of the 100 blog topics that he wished people would cover. One of them was, “How Twitter Improved My Blog,” and I accepted the challenge to write something along these lines. (For those of you who are unfamiliar with Twitter, you can read “The Tao of Twitter,” “Newbies Guide to Twitter,” or “Ode to Twitter.”) Here is my answer to Chris’s request.
Twitter made my website faster. One day someone on Twitter complained that Truemors took a long time to load. Out of the twittersphere popped Jason Grigsby, and he analyzed how we could make Truemors faster. Without Twitter, Jason and I would have never connected. It must have taken him hours of research and years of accumulated experience to do this for me. How cool is that?
Twitter made my website more interesting. One day Laura Fitton (she is 50% of the reason I joined Twitter) sent me an email because she read a tweet from David Armano just after he witnessed teenagers pulling out an old woman from her stalled car. Unfortunately, the car had stalled on a railroad track in Glenview, Illinois, and they got her out just in time to save her life. Without Twitter I would have not gotten to know Laura, and Laura would have not gotten to know David, and Truemors not have beaten the news wires by several hours with this story.
Twitter continues to make my website more interesting. I get several stories each day from the forty people that I follow on Twitter. Also, I follow the New York Times, BBC, and International Herald Tribune Twitter feeds for more story ideas. I know I can get RSS feeds from these publications in my feedreader (NetNewsWire) but watching their tweets is more exciting and efficient. For example, the lag in RSS feeds is about thirty minutes, and at any given time, I have 1,000 unread stories to scan in NetNewsWire.
Twitter increased traffic. Jim Long is a cameraman for NBC. He flys around the world on Air Force One covering whatever the president does. One day he tweeted that he saw Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens of High School Musical 2 eating and smooching in Cafe Sydney in Australia while George W. was at APEC/OPEC. Someone picked up this tweet and truemored it, and this brought Truemors tens of thousands of page views. By the way, if you think insipid celebrity sightings doesn’t create traffic, you’re very wrong.
Twitter continues to increase traffic. Now I use Twitterfeed to automatically post the “Science” and “Odd” truemors to Twitter every six hours. Michelle Wolverton, who I met via Laura Fitton, has helped me as a virtual assistant on the project. On any given day, Twitter is the third best source of click throughs—trailing only Google and Popurls. Admittedly, some people have complained that I use Twitter to pimp Truemors too much, but my mother always told me that if you’re not irritating some people, you’re not doing anything interesting.
Twitter made my web site more true and less rumor. Jim Long helped debunk the truemor of the “mystery airplane” that was flying around Washington D. C. on 9/11. Here’s the commment that he posted:
OK everybody, move along…nothing to see here. LOL. There’s really nothing mysterious about this aircraft. It’s the Air Force E4-B. A cold war relic, it was essentially designed as a flying command post for the President and SECDEF in times of nuclear crisis. I’ve circled the globe in this aircraft a number of times.
Twitter enabled me to make new friends. This is the greatest benefit of all. It connected me to people like Greg, Laura, Jim, Michelle, and Chris that I had not known. They have helped me in many ways, but more importantly, they have become friends, and friends are far more important than page views.
Twitter enabled me to re-connect to old friends. This includes Dave Winer (who is the other 50% of why I joined Twitter) and not-so-old friends like Robert Scoble and Hugh Macleod. In particular, Hugh is an interesting case because I had been trying to get in email touch with him for months because my emails to him went straight to his spam folder. With Twitter’s direct messages, I was finally able to reconnect with him. There is something truly elegant about 140-character emails—if only all email were limited to 140 characters.
Twitter enabled me to preserve my heritage. This is the best story of all. One day on Twitter Scott Yoshinaga asked me if “Duke Kawasaki” is my father. I tell him that he is. He tells me this story: He and his fiancee, Audra Furuichi, bought a book called Japan: Islands of the Rising Sun at a Friends of the Library of Hawaii used-book sale in Honolulu at McKinley High School. Inside the book was a copy of my father’s certificate of election to the state senate of Hawaii. Apparently this was my father’s book—he was a voracious reader and imparted a love of books to me. And my father graduated from McKinley to top it all off.
Maybe this doesn’t make my site better, but it makes me happy. Scott is sending the certificate to me, and this piece of my family’s history would have been lost were it not for Twitter. Be sure to check out Scott’s and Audra’s cool manga web-comics at nemu*nemu (Japanese for “to sleep”). And they were kind enough to make a manga comic about me and Twitter!
All in all, Twitter is very useful and a lot of fun. From the outside looking in, it may not appear to be either to many folks, but some things need to be believed to be seen.