You may have heard of Twitter over the past few months. DiS has spent some time exploring it and stalking musicians to bring you "A multi-part guide for music-y things on Twitter" But first, a quick introduction and explanation of what it is and why our Editor thinks it's great...
Wut is Twitter?
Essentially, Twitter is a site dedicated to micro-blogging. Users engage in conversations and discussions via Facebook style status-updates (or what you might call public 140 character text messages). You've probably heard of it because Jonathan Ross seems to talk about it all the time on the TV and radio (@Wossy) or because @theSonicYouth have been sharing details about their album on there. You've maybe just read about it because, like MySpace six years or so ago, after a few years of being a little nerdy-network of tech-types it's now all gone apeshit.
Like anything in life, especially on the web, it is only what you make it. It is as addictive as it is (arguably) pointless. Like a pub conversation, if you're sitting with a bunch of dullards and have nothing entertaining to share with the group and nor do they, then yeah, I can see why you'd side with Anne Widecombe and think it's an abhorrent waste of time and a place purely for egomaniacs and the saddest of sad sacks. For me, however, it's a place to share your passions, mixed with a little self-documentation to help express who you are, as well as a place to find out how folks like you are spending their time (much like people do on our hugely popular Social board)
Is it for you?
I suspect so. Being the sort of person who reads DiS and is reading this article, the penny has either dropped and you're obsessed with it already, or you've signed up but not yet really used it. More likely you tried it and like Little Boots on Pitchfork last week quickly rubbished it (although she's back already @iamlittleboots. But if you're scared off by the hoards of media-savvy techies who worship @StephenFry and enjoy checking out his photos of endangered birds and read his short reviews of gadgets), it may not be for you.
I for one love it. It's like being able to have a huge pub-full of interesting tables to sit at all at once. Currently, it feels like those meandering hours before the party has actually started, people are still getting their bearings whilst @David_Lynch tells what the weather is like in LA today, with most people looking over the legendary director's shoulder, seeking evermore interesting people to arrive to inform and entertain us. Being as much a music geek as a tech nerd, I've been stunned how many, and how quickly, music-related people and organisations have signed up and embraced the site. Musicians especially, both big, like @Coldplay and small, like @dataselectparty, have cottoned onto it, sharing anything from thoughts of the day to the music they love, to excitement and frustrations direct from the road or studio.
Yeah, yeah, grunt-not-talk-of-blogging-again-grunt-grunt... we understand what you're thinking; if you have nothing interesting to share, then what on earth can be interesting about it? Yes, like you'd expect, the narcissistic are dancing away in one corner whilst the unexceptional, living dull lives, meakly mumble "I'm eating toast..."
On the one hand, if you sign up as a 'follower' (reading other's posts but not making your own) ready to join a conga-line, rather than looking at it as a creator, there's a lot to learn, bundles of insight to be gained, as well as it being an increasingly compelling way of keeping abreast of what's going on in the world. The reason I love Twitter is because, like Facebook statuses and news headlines, it gives me, and information junkies like me a short, snappy, soundbite-like overview, after having spent time selecting people to follow, tip-offs on news, music and technology.
Not only is Twitter great for finding things but I've found that it's great place to be found by both a new audience, as well as reaching out to our current readers. For instance, Twitter is now the 4th most popular traffic source for people coming to/finding DiS, behind Google, Wikipedia, Facebook.com and ahead of the likes of music-reviews-agregator Metacritic.com, the BBC and Pitchfork.
Hang on, so it is and isn't just like Facebook status updates?
I love the simplicity of Twitter; the way it can be syndicated/embedded on others sites and the choice it offers. I love that people I know in various cities around the globe write mini-reviews of gigs they're at, recommend the better things they've been reading and share recommendations of anything from mp3 blogs to furious reactions to the rubbishness of reality (and I'm hoping all the hilariously miserable bastards from BBC's Grumpy Old... series get on there asap!).
The reason why it's better than Facebook is the succinct and singular purpose of Twitter. There are no sodding vampire attacks, feeds of posed photos or DogBook invites here. Unlike Facebook, you can avoid kids who bullied you in school who now want to be your 'friend' and pick 'n' choose who you want to follow, they don't even need to follow you back, meaning you can get updates from anyone you wish. Also, it means you have the choice to remove people who're boring or post too much crap (like @Bjork was), without it being some massive modern-cuss of 'de-friending' someone.
Essentially, if you don't 'get' Twitter yet, I urge you to give it a (second) chance. If you don't need or want any more information or insight in your life thankyouverymuch then fine, thanks for reading, bye! For the rest of you...
So I've signed up, I love music, what should I do?
You could add your address book and then spend hours finding and following friends-of-friends and seeing who people you know are 'following'.Twitter is almost intentionally super-simple but invest the time and you'll find there are quite a lot of your and our favourite bands on there too, documenting what they're upto, as well as labels and websites sharing quick snippets of news. Rather than spending hours finding bands you like, DiS has done a lot of the legwork for you (wandering around a new digital frontier is our kinda nerdy fun!) and over the course of today will be revealing our favourites.
However, for starters, start following @drownedinsound for updates from DiS HQ, including first reactions to records and a feed of the site, also check our own herd of "followers" for a list of websites and labels we like. Also on Twitter Tom our webmaster is running updates of the site's status if it's ever down, as well as revealing new features and major fixes as they are added @DiSsiteStatus. Or follow DiS' founder/editor @seaninsound for a mixture of life-documenting, link sharing, reactions to stuff and the like. And if you fancy seeing which bands we're following have a browse @DiSmusicians.
Also, if you don't feel like signing up but would like to see what people are saying, visit musictwitters.com.
DiScuss: Do you love or hate Twitter? Who's your favourite person to follow? What musicians do you follow? What labels or music-y related things do you follow? Have you found the fake @NotoriousBIG or @NickCave yet? What's your Twitter address?