Thursday, February 17, 2011

Tweets by SMS Is My New Inbox Zero

In 2006, sitting at my desk looking at ye olde for the first time, I thought about how many txt messages were included in my cell phone plan. Because I was poor (e.g. had just bought a house), I was over 30, and was usually not out of sight of my wife who was the only one I ever spoke to on my phone, I had a bare bones, minimalist, no text plan. But even then I wanted to rock twttr via txt. 

Well, long after Twitter had Vanna add the vowels, my life morphed txt crazy. While the rest of the world was enraptured with iPhone twitter apps, I embraced my love of a simple twitterers txt life. I was discouraged that the twitter apps of today, while actually very nice and useful, can complicate my life, draw me in to where I need to put too much time into reading and not enough time into living my off-line life. Simply put, none of the Twitter apps out there are blowing my mind, and saving me time. So, over the last four to six months I have turned my back on them for the most part.

If you'd like to try it, here are simple instructions I copied from Twitter to send and receive tweets and much much more all by SMS. (You should also check out Twitter's Help Center.)

Twitter commands

FOLLOW username

Start following a user

UNFOLLOW username

Stop following a user


Turn all Tweet notifications on or off

ON/OFF username

Set Tweet notifications for a user on or off (you'll still be following them even if you set it to off)

GET username

Shows you the latest tweet from any user

RT username

Retweet a user's latest tweet

FAV username

Favorite a user's latest tweet

D username your-message

Send a direct message to a user

NOTE: This post was born of an older post, jumbled down in haste a few months ago. I've been thinking about SMS and Twitter non-stop for the better part of the past three or four years, and it wasn't until I equated my Tweetie use to email in Feb 2010 that I began to realize I'd been treating tweets just like I treated my email inbox, except tweets of course just never stop. There's never enough time in the day to read them all. There can never be INBOX ZERO. Since to me Twitter apps and most of Facebook had become people's new inbox around 2009 (read that as "time sink") I felt I had to change the way I digested tweets. Stay at home working dads don't have all the time in the world to follow their friends on Twitter. So out of that, I turned to SMS. Twitter via SMS is like getting your new fangled inbox on a drip that's stuck in your arm, or perhaps akin to hearing a bird twitter in a tree, especially if you set your phone to chirp from your pocket or purse! Might not seem better at first, but give it time. Warning: You may become addicted to the Twitter Drip, but you may also realize the degree to which you were addicted in the recent past to dying platforms and the constraints they place on what I consider more natural methods of human communication. If you were addicted to those dying platforms, at least you won't miss those earlier addictions.