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What are you doing?

One of the world’s most important people,US President Barack Obama made news when he used Twitter to reach out to millions of Americans during election time,urging them to vote.

March 20, 2009 1:47:04 am

One question has enabled Twitter to take on the world as well as young India. Find out what SRK,Aamir Khan and Milind Deora are at

One of the world’s most important people,US President Barack Obama made news when he used Twitter to reach out to millions of Americans during election time,urging them to vote. While it helped the Democrat sweep the elections,it also increased the user base of this micro-blogging website by manifold.

Closer home,our own politicos are flirting with the service to gain access to the youth,an important section of voters. And Twitter is again at centre stage.

Says MP Milind Deora: “I have a web team that is using contemporary means of communication,including Twitter,to reach out to the youth Mumbaikar. We hope to use the facility to create awareness among the present generation about our party as well as the need to vote.”

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Twitter describes itself as ‘a service for friends,family,and co-workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick,frequent answers to one simple question: What are you doing?’. A social networking and micro-blogging service,it enables users to send and read other users’ updates known as tweets or text-based posts of up to 140 characters in length. So technically,what would be your status message on G-chat or Facebook would make for a tweet in Twitter.

What works for this service is that users can synchronise their Twitter accounts with their phones to stay “connected” 24X7.

Though most subscribers use it for the novelty factor,Twitter witnessed a huge following during the 2008 earthquake in China. Even as people across the affected states were realising what had struck them,tweets were out “breaking the news” before the media could.

Locally,during the 26/11 attacks,thousands of Mumbaikars logged on to share updates across the world. College student and hostelite Ria Manchanda was in Colaba when the terrorists attacked the Taj Mahal Palace & Tower. “I was running out of cash on my prepaid phone. My family is in the Gulf and Twitter allowed me to keep in touch with them,” says the 20-year-old.

Artistes seem to be using the service to their benefit too. While Shah Rukh Khan and Aamir Khan too can be spotted on Twitter,reading their tweets it seems that their publicity managers,in most likelihood,are ghost-tweeting. However,music groups like Jalebee Cartel and Shubha Mudgal use it regularly to update their fans about their performance schedules.

Says Gaurav Vaz from Raghu Dixit Project: “Twitter’s been useful in more than one way. We’ve been using it to reach out to our fan base and also for crowd-sourcing,which is to throw a problem to the user group and one of them finds a solution. We had a show in Mumbai and brought along a camera but forgot the tripod. I merely sent out a tweet requesting anyone in position of helping to revert.”

But one man’s peach is another man’s poison. There is a section of users who complain that Twitter over-connects them. “It seemed interesting in the beginning as I could keep in touch with my team when not at work. But as my network grew,my phone would be incessantly beeping,displaying minute-by-minute updates of what my friends were having for dinner,” says techie Rohan Manujam. That’s too much of a price to pay to ‘stay connected’.”

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